SALT LAKE CITY, Utah, Dec. 20, 2017 (Gephardt Daily) — The Utah Transit Authority has announced an early Christmas present for its riders: Free Fare Friday on Dec. 22.
The Salt Lake City Council, Salt Lake County Mayor Ben McAdams and UTA said they have joined together to underwrite the cost of using the transit system all day, according to a news release. UTA’s standard fare is $2.50 per person per ride.
No fare will be required on all UTA services, including regular and express bus, TRAX, FrontRunner, the S-Line, Ski service, the Park City-SLC Connect and paratransit service for eligible riders. The promotion is valid throughout all six counties UTA serves.
“City Council Chair Stan Penfold organized the effort to help raise awareness about the common-sense connection between increasing transit ridership and lowering the emissions from cars and trucks that get trapped in our valleys during wintertime inversions, eventually causing Red Air Days,” the news release said.
Free Fare Friday is meant to be as simple for transit riders as possible, the news release says. All day on Dec. 22, no cash fares will be required. Bus drivers will be instructed not to accept fares and rail stations will be posted with signs indicating that no fares are required. UTA customers with electronic passes or who have a FAREPAY card will not need to “tap on” and “tap off” when boarding a bus or train. Riders who have purchased tickets on UTA’s mobile ticketing app, UTA GoRide, do not need to purchase or use a ticket on Friday.
“While research shows that overall air quality along the Wasatch Front has improved over the past couple of decades, wintertime inversions remain a big problem,” the news release says.
“During inversions, air emissions become trapped in mountain valleys and build up to create unhealthy and murky air that is particularly dangerous for young children, older people and those with respiratory conditions.”
Cars and trucks account for about 57 percent of wintertime air emissions, including nearly half of the PM2.5 — tiny particulates that lodge in people’s and animals’ lungs and can contribute to health ailments.
Increasing the number of people riding transit during winter inversions and on Red Air Days reduces the number of vehicles on roads and highways, resulting in lower air emissions. A single transit vehicle can replace between 45 and 350 solo-driver cars and trucks. A typical UTA bus can carry 45 riders, each FrontRunner commuter train car accommodates about 350 and a TRAX light rail car can carry up to 150 riders.
UTA President/CEO Jerry Benson thanked the Salt Lake City Council and Salt Lake County for their support of this event.
“Eliminating fares for one day isn’t likely to have a significant effect on transit usage or air quality, but partnerships like this show that public officials know that better air quality can come with increased transit ridership, among other strategies,” Benson said.
For more information on Free Fare Friday, click here.