Accessibility

Utah Transit Authority uses flex route program to fill service gaps

Posted on August 25, 2010

[IMAGE]UTA-2.jpg[/IMAGE]In May 2010, the Utah Transit Authority (UTA) implemented the last three lines of its nine-area flex route bus service program, which was expanded to help fill gaps caused by reducing its paratransit services.

"We like many transit agencies have faced reducing sales tax revenues because of the recession and had to do layoffs, cut services and tighten budgets, in general," explained UTA spokesperson Gerry Carpenter, who added that UTA had been providing paratransit-type services since 1988 — two years prior to the Americans with Disabilities Act being passed into law.

With plummeting tax revenues causing increasingly tough budget deficits and the FTA applying pressure on UTA to make a determination of whether it was going to exceed the three-fourths of a mile rule for every passenger and not just its paratransit customers that had been grandfathered in, the agency began addressing the issue in 2009 by proposing to eliminate any discounts, doubling fares and more strictly enforcing its three-fourths of a mile exceptions.

"Of course, there was a big backlash, because there were a lot of very concerned individuals who were going to face severe impacts to their lifestyle," said Carpenter. "So, we ended up with a compromise: We did eliminate the unlimited monthly pass and did not raise fares — we kept them what they were, which is 2.50 a trip —  but, ultimately, we did say we'd go forward with the strictly enforcing the three-quarters of a mile rule."

Carpenter explained what UTA's plan did was impact distant suburbs and rural communities that did not have all-day fixed route bus or train services. UTA was soon able to come up with grant money, as well as perform some creative budgeting, to begin launching flex-route services in September 2009, while simultaneously phasing out its paratransit services, a task that was completed just prior to the latest round of flex routes were launched. 

The new service is called flex because the shuttle-style vans run a regularly scheduled route through the community and can deviate up to three-fourths of a mile off the regular fixed-route for just one dollar more than the standard $2 fare. Customers can call to schedule a deviation up to two hours prior to the trip. 

Carpenter said that flex routes have provided a number of advantages for its customers, including filling the gap for people who had previously utilized paratransit services but would no longer be able to because of the three-fourths of a mile enforcement.

The flex services are also cheaper for customers who are eligible to use paratransit services because, through the agency's Freedom Access Pass program, they are eligible to ride any of UTA's bus or train services free of charge and have to only pay the $1 deviation fee instead of the previous $2.50 per trip.

"The other biggest advantage, really, is that it provides transportation for everyone," said Carpenter. "To use paratransit services you have to qualify but, with this, anyone can use it and anyone can call for a deviation for any reason, like on a snow day for instance."

In what has come as a victory for the UTA, the flex routes introduced in May — The Herriman Lift, The Syracuse/Hooper Lift, and the American Fork/Alpine Lift — are seeing month-to-month increases in ridership not just from paratransit users but, also, in pickups at regular stops by the communities at large, explained Carpenter.

"We don't have any others that are planned for the near future, but we definitely see that this is an effective model," said Carpenter. "The ridership, without exception, has improved with time on every one of these routes." 

 

 

 

 

 

 

View comments or post a comment on this story. (0 Comments)

More News

Investigation finds issues with Miami-Dade paratransit contract

At various times, the county paid too much when prices should have decreased, missed deadlines to seek damages from its contractor for alleged substandard performance and failed to accurately calculate the most basic of contract functions — cost of living adjustments.

KCATA taking over neighboring city's transit services

The new contract, which begins July 1, enables city of Independence riders with disabilities who depend on paratransit services would only need to make one phone call to get transportation.

Fla. paratransit driver fired for driving drunk, injuring customer

The driver was spotted driving poorly, before slamming his brakes, causing a 90-year-old passenger to fall to the floor. According to the arrest report, the driver's blood alcohol content was more than three times the legal limit.

Website helps commuters tap multimodal options

CarFreeAtoZ plans trips in a manner similar to Google Maps or Mapquest, but it combines different transit options, such as walking, using the Metro and biking.

Tech. breakthroughs inspire personal mobility device design

Models coming on the market or in development can climb stairs, turn tight corners, make their way over trails, and are lighter and easier to maneuver than earlier generations.

See More News

Post a Comment

Post Comment

Comments (0)



More From The World's Largest Fleet Publisher

Automotive Fleet

The Car and truck fleet and leasing management magazine

Business Fleet

managing 10-50 company vehicles

Fleet Financials

Executive vehicle management

Government Fleet

managing public sector vehicles & equipment

TruckingInfo.com

THE COMMERCIAL TRUCK INDUSTRY’S MOST IN-DEPTH INFORMATION SOURCE

Work Truck Magazine

The resource for managers of class 1-7 truck Fleets

Schoolbus Fleet

Serving school transportation professionals in the U.S. and Canada

LCT Magazine

Global Resource For Limousine and Bus Transportation

Please sign in or register to .    Close