The Utah Transit Authority has logged two undistinguished accomplishments. The first is that its prices are among the nation's highest. It now costs $2.50 for a basic transit or TRAX ride. That's more than virtually anywhere else in the U.S. The other undistinguished accomplishment is the continued high salaries of the public-private organization's executives. A look at Utah public salaries at utahsright.com logs scores of UTA employees earning more than $100,000 a year.
The $2.50 fee is $1 more than the national average for bus transit costs. The same $2.50 fee for the TRAX light rail is 50 cents higher than the national average. These increases have become frequent. There have been three in the past two years. It's been a long time since UTA promised to implement an electronic card system that could reduce costs for shorter transit trips. So far, that's not happened.
Now, if UTA was providing a high-quality service, one might excuse the high salaries and constant fare increases. But it isn't. As has been noted in these pages before, UTA's offerings are too often not very convenient for the majority of Utah's workers. TRAX may be ideal for those working in downtown Salt Lake City or wanting to go to a Utah Jazz basketball game, but it's a poor alternative for too many of the rest of us. Frankly, Utah workers do not have an economic advantage by using UTA as their preferred mode of travel to work.
If UTA wants to be regarded as a successful operation, it needs to find a way to connect with more neighborhoods in the Top of Utah. More procrastination of that responsibility will only increase its poor public image. We understand that the organization has received less funding from sales taxes that it anticipated. However, the gold-plated salaries for many of its top-echelon employees offsets public sympathy for that economic reality. UTA has a golden pay scale and an iron service system. That needs to be changed.