UTA to Renew Focus on People, Smart Fiscal Policy and Service in Coming Years
UTA is going back to basics, with a renewed focus on people, smart fiscal policy and service, President and CEO Jerry Benson told UTA’s Board of Trustees today in his inaugural “State of UTA” address. UTA will focus on making the system work better for more people, improving customer interactions and encouraging transit-friendly communities, Benson said.
“We must align our employees, our financial resources, and our service to provide our customers with the best, most-responsive transit system possible,” he said.
This plan for the agency is the result of Benson’s three month listening tour, during which time he traveled across the Wasatch Front to meet and learn from the experiences of riders, business owners, UTA stakeholders and community representatives. The “State of UTA” address includes initiatives for enhancing service, revamping financial policies and improving public engagement and community relations.
“While serving as interim CEO for the past year, I’ve taken the opportunity to listen to and learn what our customers, partners, employees and other stakeholders have to say about UTA,” Benson said. “What I heard was that we provide a needed and valued service, but that we have gaps to fill.”
2017 People Initiatives:
- Reorganize personnel functions under a chief people officer to support employee training and professional development opportunities.
- Increase opportunities for public engagement.
- Provide more and better information.
- Live-stream board meetings.
- Build partnerships with communities, stakeholders.
2017 Money Initiatives:
- Revamp budget practices: limit borrowing, leasing and dipping into reserves.
- Manage current debt prudently.
- Scour the budget for opportunities to reduce costs.
- Carefully and transparently evaluate budget implications of potential new commitments, and set expectations with partners accordingly.
- Maintain the network in a state of good repair: replace buses, overhaul elements of TRAX.
2017 Service Initiatives:
- Implement Proposition 1 service improvements in Davis, Weber and Tooele counties.
- Assess and adjust key routes and schedules to improve service.
- Update UTA’s website to provide more and better information.
- Complete the installation of faster, more-reliable Wi-Fi on FrontRunner trains.
- Explore innovative partnerships that expand and enhance UTA service and improve customer convenience and experience.
- Simplify UTA’s fare system and improve reliability of ticket vending machines.
Benson told the board these changes will help UTA prepare for population growth and a new generation of riders. The state’s population has tripled since UTA was organized in 1970, and is expected to double again in the next 20 to 30 years, he said. Today, UTA riders are younger, with more varied trip purposes. Fewer riders have driver’s licenses.
“UTA is in a new era,” he said. “The era of large capital construction projects is behind us for now, and we’re going to focus on service. The organization will be remade to match the era that we’re in.”
Moving forward, Benson said, he plans to continue his efforts to gather feedback from riders and others in the community.
“I plan to make it part of my work day, work week and work month,” he said. “It’s a wonderful way to be reminded of the difference we make in this community.”