No fare will be charged on UTA this Friday, Dec. 22, thanks to an innovative partnership designed to encourage people to leave their cars at home and try public transit during the inversion season.

The Salt Lake City Council, Salt Lake County Mayor Ben McAdams and UTA will sponsor fare for the unique, one-day event. No fare will be required this Friday, Dec. 22 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.

UTA President/CEO Jerry Benson thanked the Salt Lake City Council and Salt Lake County for their support of this event, which is designed to raise awareness about addressing air quality along the Wasatch Front

“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.

The event is designed to encourage residents to leave their cars at home and ride public transit to help prevent poor air quality days. During winter inversions, one of the main pollutants is fine particulate matter called PM2.5, which is mostly caused by burning fuel and causes concern because these tiny airborne particulates can lodge in lungs and be hazardous to their health. Some 57 percent of all wintertime air emissions, and half of fine particulate pollution, come from car and truck exhaust.

Salt Lake City Council Chair Stan Penfold said the announcement is designed to encourage more public transit ridership on what is typically a busy travel day.

“We very much hope that both long-time commuters and first-time riders will take advantage of Free Fare Friday,” he said. “What better time to offer complimentary transit fares than on a busy shopping day just before Christmas?”

Penfold, McAdams and Benson noted that efforts are underway on several fronts to improve northern Utah’s air quality, citing the Salt Lake Chamber’s just-announced “Zero Red Air Days” initiative, projects to produce cleaner-burning fuels, and the work of nonprofit groups like UCAIR, among others.

“Efforts like Free Fare Friday contribute to the success of the long-term, multi-pronged strategy championed by many in our community, including government agencies, businesses, community groups, nonprofits, and committed individuals,” McAdams said.