Free transit fares and NBA All-Stars drives surge in TRAX and FrontRunner ridership | News


click to enlarge
TRAX and FrontRunner ridership surged between Feb. 12 and Feb. 21, when UTA offered free-fare services around the NBA All-Star Game. - DOWNTOWN ALLIANCE

  • Downtown Alliance
  • TRAX and FrontRunner ridership surged between Feb. 12 and Feb. 21, when UTA offered free-fare services around the NBA All-Star Game.

The number of riders on Utah Transit Authority’s TRAX and FrontRunner trains jumped by more than 40% between Feb. 12 and Feb. 21, when fares were waived systemwide in response to an influx of visitors to the capitol city for NBA All-Star events.

According to preliminary figures obtained through a public records request, UTA’s network saw an uptick of more than 171,000 rides during the 10-day free fare period, which translates to an overall increase of roughly 22% compared to baseline figures. But the ridership gains were most pronounced on the weekends and for passenger rail services, with Saturday train ridership more than tripling between Feb. 11 and Feb. 18.

“UTA was proud to be part of a successful NBA All-Star event, including providing zero fare for a simple, enjoyable rider experience,” UTA Board of Trustees Chairman Carlton Christensen said in a prepared statement. “Hundreds of UTA volunteers helped visitors make their way to venues across Salt Lake City and beyond.”

On Feb. 19, TRAX carried more than 26,000 riders, compared to less than 10,000 the Sunday prior, the data show. And more than 5,000 riders took FrontRunner that day, but no comparison is available as UTA typically doesn’t offer FrontRunner services on Sundays.

The free fare experiment came one year after UTA partnered with Salt Lake City to offer a full month of no-cost transit. But despite the success of the Free Fare February pilot, it was only partially repeated in 2023, overtly as a means for absorbing the downtown crowds generated by the NBA All-Star Game.

Prior to the recent legislative session, Gov. Spencer Cox called for a full year of free transit fares to study the impact on road congestion, air quality and transit use. But state lawmakers declined to consider the proposal, preferring instead to fund the construction of a new FrontRunner station in Draper and the ongoing double-tracking of the FrontRunner line, which when complete would allow for trains to run at 15-minute intervals.

In addition to state funding, it was also announced this month that Utah had been awarded federal grants in support of double-tracking FrontRunner and constructing a new bus rapid transit (BRT) line in Salt Lake County. Those grants follow additional federal funding awarded to Salt Lake City to study options for reconnecting the east and west sides of the city, an effort that could lead to a project like the Rio Grande Plan.

Source link

Tags: No tags

Leave A Comment