Image via WikipediaUTA has announced that it is looking to adding another surcharge to transit fares in October. While no one wants to see the increase in fares, we have to face facts that diesel is at an all time high. While some use this to attack TRAX and Front Runner, the true problems are the bus system and the paratransit system.
As I have pointed out in the past the paratransit system is an unfunded mandate through the ADA from the federal government that cost us $25 to $35 per rider. Yet the people who use the taxi service feel that they are entitled to pay the same fares or slightly more than bus riders that cost substantially less.
Also these vans that often run around the area with either one or at the most a couple of passengers also take fuel to run them so when the cost goes up, it is put on all of us to pay for it.
Another issue that is coming back to hurt us is our lack of density outside the Salt Lake area. While some people try to point out that fares are less in a city like San Francisco, we also have to remember they have a much higher density covering a much smaller area. UTA has to cover service from Payson to Brigham city that means you have buses covering a lot of miles and some very weak lines covering that area.
We need long term solutions to get more ridership on the buses. Even the increases we currently have are only a drop in the budget to what is really needed to make our bus system less costly. Sadly some people want instant solutions that will only do long term harm.