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UTA fares increase, making system among most expensive

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SALT LAKE CITY — Starting Monday, public transportation costs more on the Wasatch Front, as newly increased fares will put the Utah Transit Authority's fares among the highest in the country.

While many systems charge between $1 and $1.50, today UTA's bus and TRAX fairs were bumped to $2.50 for a single trip, making Utah's public transit one of the most expensive systems in the country.

According to a list compiled by the American Public Transportation Association, just a few systems surveyed in the U.S. and Canada had higher rates, including San Francisco, Seattle and some smaller towns in Minnesota and Texas.

How UTA fares compare to other transit systems:
  • Salt Lake City: $2.50
  • Sacramento: $2.50
  • Portland: $2.50
  • Denver: $2.25
  • Las Vegas: $2.00
  • Phoenix: $2.00

Monthly passes are also going up to $83, a $5 increase. The premium pass, which cover the express bus and FrontRunner, increased from $189 to $199 per month. This is the final of three increases that were approved in 2011.

"It is true that we're on the high end, but we're also providing a greater service value for the fare amount," UTA spokesman Gerry Carpenter said when the plan was initially approved.

"Our trips are typically longer. Instead of just a few blocks, people are traveling sometimes 20 or 30 miles. And that's a lot of value for your dollar."

Reactions among riders have been mixed. Jacob Corsi takes FrontRunner from Provo to Salt Lake and back every day, but he wouldn't if his pass wasn't paid for by his employer.

"I could get here for about the same cost that the new price increase would be, and I could get here about 45 minutes faster — well, round-trip about 45 minutes in a day," Corsi said.

Others praised the system and said it would be worth the ride even at $3.

"I fill up my tank twice a week when I'm driving up here and back, so $2.50 is still probably better than a tank of gas," said Emily Shattuck, an Orem resident who travels to Salt Lake every day.

Buying a basic monthly pass for a full 12 months would run a customer almost $1,000. Riding the system round trip, five days a week without a monthly pass would cost roughly $1,300. Twelve months of a premium pass would cost more than $2,300.

UTA has talked in the past about moving to a system that will charge by distance instead of a flat rate, but that idea hasn't gotten off the ground yet.

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Mary Richards and Andrew Wittenberg


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