Making it easier for riders to get to and from public transit; working to increase public trust; creating plans to improve rail stations and the rider experience—these are among the many goals that UTA met or exceeded in 2016.
“We’re proud of what our dedicated and talented employees accomplished last year,” UTA President/CEO Jerry Benson said. “We greatly value the trust and resources our community has invested in UTA and we’re committed to keep working hard to build the best transit system possible to meet our customers’ and stakeholders’ many and varied needs.”
UTA employees successfully completed projects to improve first and last-mile connections to transit services by testing a new bike rack on FrontRunner, adding a GREENbike facility at North Temple Station and improving bus shelters and rider amenities throughout UTA’s service area. The agency will complete more first and last-mile projects this year using Prop 1 and TIGER grant funding.
UTA also conducted a survey to help evaluate public trust and accountability, achieved the investment-per-rider goal and worked with the Wasatch Front Regional Council and local municipalities to plan and implement new transit-oriented development near Pleasant View FrontRunner Station and Central Pointe TRAX Station.
The agency prudently managed its financial resources, meeting service needs within and slightly under its $254.9 million operating budget.
“Since joining the UTA Board more than three years ago, I’ve grown increasingly pleased with the steady progress the agency has made and continues to make to improve how it operates, be more transparent to the public, address maintenance needs and find ways to make service more convenient,” said UTA Board Chair Robert McKinley. “UTA successfully delivered on creating an enviable light rail and commuter rail network, and now must focus on a new era of better connecting its services and meeting the changing needs of its customers.”
UTA also worked to fulfill its “True Norths”, or guiding principles of service, people, environment, community and stewardship.
Service: UTA improved bus service by 15 percent in Weber and Davis counties, provided service to special community events, enhanced ski bus routes and improved customer information signs at eight key stations.
People: The agency streamlined the process by which riders can submit comments and concerns and increased employee-generated suggestions for FrontRunner improvement by 440 percent.
Environment: UTA’s vanpool program reduced greenhouse gas emission by 35.2 million pounds. FrontRunner service prevented more than 63.7 million miles of emissions that would have otherwise been traveled in personal vehicles.
Community: UTA improved security at FrontRunner stations and Park & Ride lots and increased communication with the public, stakeholders and employees.
Stewardship: The agency saved $400,000 using compressed natural gas fueling stations instead of diesel fuel and improved 100 bus stops as well as dozens of rail crossings and TRAX stations. UTA also received more than $93 million in federal grant funds for system improvements.
Several of UTA’s 2016 goals are still in progress, such as plans to conduct more public outreach and analysis on a future fare structure. UTA is also working with project partners to incorporate federal grant funding into the Provo Orem Transportation Improvement Project.
Benson also reported that ridership declined by 2.16 percent in 2016. This follows a national trend of falling public transit ridership due to low gas prices and car sales growth. Despite the small decrease, many of UTA’s routes saw increased ridership, including Weber and Davis county routes improved with Prop 1 funding and Big and Little Cottonwood canyon ski bus routes, which reported boarding increases of as much as 25 percent on weekdays following a redesign of routes and schedules.
In addition to providing a report card on UTA’s overall progress, assessment of agency goals is used to determine the annual performance incentives for UTA’s administrative employees. Executives do not receive performance incentives. Nearly 750 employees will receive a share of the incentive pool.