By all indications, 2013 was quite a year for the Utah Transit Authority (UTA), leading to the agency being named APTA’s 2014 Outstanding Public Transportation System for a transit agency providing 20 million or more passenger trips.
“This is a great honor for UTA and confirmation from our peers across the country of what our loyal customers already know, that we have the best multimodal transit system in the U.S.,” said UTA GM Michael Allegra. “Just as we are always studying other transit systems, likewise our peer transit agencies have been contacting us asking for our help, so that they can learn from our experience during a time of record growth. We are more than happy to share what we have learned by building this system, which is no small undertaking.”
Part of UTA’s 2013 success included providing a record 44 million trips on its trains and buses, representing a 3% increase in overall ridership, which was subsequently higher than the 2.1% national average increase.
Much of UTA’s growth came from its FrontRunner commuter rail system, which increased ridership 103% compared to December 2012. Meanwhile, its TRAX light rail system experienced 6.8% growth in 2013.
In a 12-month period, concluding in December 2013, UTA opened four rail lines, including one commuter rail line, two light rail lines and the state’s first modern streetcar line.
The new rail lines were part of UTA’s FrontLines 2015 project, which included four light rail lines and one commuter rail line. The ambitious undertaking broke ground in 2008 with a plan to build 70 miles of rail in seven years. The program was completed two years ahead of schedule and $300 million under budget.
The success of FrontLines 2015 was possible, Allegra said, because of the partnerships between UTA and the communities it serves.
“We are a model in this country for the things that we do — and we do them together,” he said at the time of the opening of the Draper line in August 2013.
UTA also joined several cities around the nation that provide airport service when it opened its Airport TRAX line in April 2013.
The six-mile line provides transportation from downtown Salt Lake City to the Salt Lake City International Airport in 20 minutes. In addition to the airport, the line also offers service to the state Fair Park, a direct connect to the FrontRunner system and the Jordan River Trail, as well as many businesses, offices and neighborhoods along the corridor on North Temple.
Additionally, the launch of UTA’s two-mile S-Line streetcar brought connections to the agency’s existing rail system with commercial districts throughout the two cities it serves — South Salt Lake City and Sugar House.
When the system launched in early December 2013, hundreds braved snow flurries and chilly temperatures, with 2,300 boardings recorded over its opening weekend.
Most recently, the agency revamped its trip planner and added a new “App Center” to its website.
UTA’s trip planner features improved address recognition, automatic fare calculation and information about walking distances. The planner also allows users to plan their trip by rail or bus and map a route using addresses, landmarks or stop identification numbers.
Meanwhile, the UTA App Center lists Web and mobile tools developed by third parties to help riders navigate the UTA system. Apps are now organized by operating system, allowing you to quickly find the app that best suits their needs.