Tonya Papanikolas ReportingPeople who ride UTA trains and buses could not take public transportation on the 5th of July. That was a no-ride holiday for the transit system and it left some customers upset.
Ironically, on the actual 4th of July holiday on Sunday, UTA saw an increase in TRAX riders at the ballpark station. That's because so many people came to see the game and fireworks after. But the next day, TRAX and bus riders were left to find alternate transportation.
Yazmin Conde, Takes Bus to Work: “I have a bus pass for three months that I paid for. I can't even use it when I need it."
Yazmin Conde has worked at the Rite-Aid on Main Street for seven months. But last Monday - on July 5th - she had a hard time actually getting to work because the UTA buses weren't running.
Yasmin Conde: “I unfortunately don't have a car right now. I had to find, I don't know how many people I had to call that day in order to get a ride to work. It really sucked."
Bret Criddle was downtown that day. He says he saw about a dozen people waiting for TRAX trains.
Bret Criddle, Rides TRAX: “I'm sure it was something they expected and they just didn't see. They had a lot of signs out that said it wouldn't run. But just people who didn't see the signs and didn't know it wouldn't be here."
UTA has never run their buses and TRAX trains on New Year's, Thanksgiving and Christmas. But this year they added three extra holidays to the list, including Independence Day.
Justin Jones, UTA Spokesman: “As we were approaching the 2004 budget year, we were facing budget shortfalls and had to cut from many different areas. And we had to add three additional holidays of no service because of the budget shortfalls."
The move saved them between 200 and 300,000 dollars. But it left some passengers who rely on the service scrambling.
Justin Jones: “It's a big concern and we understand that whenever we shut down our service for a full day. It has a huge impact on our riders."
Jones says UTA is taking peoples' complaints seriously and the company will consider some different options as they begin looking at the 2005 budget. One option could be running only a few buses and trains. But that presents another problem.
Justin Jones: “It's very difficult for us to decide who gets service and who doesn't and where the greatest needs are."
Another option could be running holiday service, where the buses come less frequently and the TRAX trains may just have one train car. But this option is still expensive; it's what UTA had in place before this year. It is a possibility these holidays will be no-service days next year.