SALT LAKE CITY -- A performance audit of the Utah Transit Authority shows the agency might not have the money to build wanted future projects or even operate projects that are currently under construction.
The audit, which was performed by the Office of the Utah Legislative Auditor General, shows that federal funds will likely pay for only about 25 percent of the $2.3 billion FrontLines 2015 project, which includes four new TRAX lines and an extension of FrontRunner from Salt Lake City to Provo. According to the audit, past rail projects were funded at 75 percent by the federal government.
The audit also shows that the economic downturn has also significantly reduced UTA's sales tax revenues. In 2010, sales tax revenue collections were $67 million lower than what had been projected in 2007.
By 2020, the audit says, UTA's sales tax revenue is expected to be $1.2 billion lower than 2007 projections.
Those numbers are even more alarming, the report says, when considering the fact that UTA accelerated construction of several rail projects based on the 2007 projections.
The audit also notes that UTA's farebox revenue projections are overly optimistic.
The agency figures it will have over 28.5 million boardings by 2016, but the audit says that number will be about 24 million, meaning UTA has overestimated its farebox revenue for that time period by $5.3 million.
The increasing debt, decreasing sales tax revenue and stagnant ridership will create financial limitations that may affect future service levels and transit projects, including bringing a streetcar system to Ogden, the audit says.