BOUNTIFUL — As she readies for her likely confirmation as trustee on the revamped board that will run the Utah Transit Authority, Beth Holbrook — representing Weber County — is in the information-gathering stage.
She speaks favorably of the planned bus rapid transit system that would serve Ogden. But she needs to do more study on the notion of extending FrontRunner service north of the city, possibly into Box Elder County, another big topic of local deliberation. Indeed, likely first steps as she readies for the new job, subject to confirmation by the Utah Senate next month, will be meeting with local leaders to get a feel for the needs and issues at the grassroots level.
"They know what people are asking for," Holbrook said.
Generally, though, she speaks of maintaining balance in pinpointing areas to get UTA coverage and in providing transit services, whether via bus or FrontRunner. Beyond that, transparency of operation has to be a big goal of the new UTA leadership team, created per legislation Utah lawmakers approved earlier this year, Senate Bill 136, to overhaul how the transit agency operates and boost confidence in it.
"They need to be able to restore trust in the organization," said Holbrook, alluding to UTA's history of controversy stemming from executive compensation packages, questionable land deals and more. "I want people to understand why they're spending the money they're spending."
Holbrook is in her third term as as a member of the Bountiful City Council and works as public sector manager out of West Jordan for Waste Management, a trash-hauling company. She'll step down from both posts to take the UTA job, but will maintain her volunteer post on the Utah League of Cities and Towns Board of Directors.
A cross-section of officials from Weber, Davis and Box Elder counties nominated Holbrook and Davis County Commissioner Bret Milburn for the seat on the UTA Board of Trustees representing the three northern Utah counties. Gov. Gary Herbert picked Holbrook, a Utah Senate committee on Monday recommended that she get the post and the full Senate is to meet Oct. 17, Holbrook said, to confirm the selection. She'd serve as one of three trustees tasked with managing the transit agency, along with Carlton Christensen, the nominee for Salt Lake County, and a nominee who has yet to be selected for Utah County.
The three-member board of trustees, all of them full-timers to be paid up to $150,000 a year, would take over from the 16-member volunteer board. The trustees would be advised by a nine-member UTA Local Advisory Board made up of volunteers, including Pleasant View Mayor Leonard Call, picked earlier this month to be the Weber County representative.
First, though, Holbrook envisions meeting with members of the local councils of government, including the Weber Area Council of Governments, city officials, county leaders and others as she takes a "deep dive" into the new job.
Following development trends will be key in her post, knowing where growth is likely to occur to plan the evolution of UTA transit offerings. That'll be particularly germane in Weber and Box Elder counties, which aren't yet as developed as Davis County but are poised for growth, she thinks.
She offered praiseworthy words for the Ogden BRT proposal, saying it and another similar transit system taking shape in the Provo area seem to be piquing the interest of the public, more than a rail system like the FrontRunner.
At the same time, she's not yet sure about the idea of expanding FrontRunner service north of Ogden to Pleasant View and possibly into Box Elder County. FrontRunner service to Pleasant View stopped last August due to issues related to the track north of Ogden, not owned by the UTA. But many Weber County leaders favor acquisition of land by UTA so it can build a new line and extend FrontRunner service northward.
"Honestly, I think that's part of what I need to understand," Holbrook said.