LAYTON -- The Utah Transit Authority is getting serious about its proposal to move to a distance-based fare system.
The agency's board has announced it will begin to hold several public meetings in 2012 to meet with UTA riders and stakeholders to discuss the ramifications of charging transit users based on how far they travel instead of one flat rate.
"Basically, we are getting ready to start a yearlong public discussion to think about distance-based fares," UTA spokesman Brandon Bott said. "The board approved moving forward on that, so that's what we will do."
Bott said the meetings have not been scheduled yet, but likely will be held early in the new year. The meetings will be held at various locations across the state where UTA provides transit service.
Currently, UTA charges a base fare of $2.25 on all of its buses and TRAX trains. The rate stays the same no matter how far a rider travels.
FrontRunner is the only UTA system that operates on a distance-based model, charging riders an increasing amount for each station they pass.
UTA officials said their electronic fare collection system, which allows customers to pay electronically rather than with cash, has been added to all UTA systems and will make the distance-based fares easy to implement.
According to a study released by UTA, the agency wants all customers to use electronic fare media by 2020. The agency also wants passenger revenue to account for more than 30 percent of operating costs in that same time period.
A move to an electronic, distance-based system will help move the agency toward that goal, officials say.
In 2010, UTA's total fare-box revenue was $35.2 million. By 2020, the agency projects that figure will be $86.3 million.