UTA Announces Changes to Free Fare Zone for Bus
Utah Transit Authority is keeping the Free Fare Zone in downtown Salt Lake City on both buses and TRAX.
“In response to public comment and after further discussion with the Salt Lake city council and other downtown stakeholders we have decided to keep buses and TRAX free within the Free Fare Zone,” General Manager Michael Allegra said. “We heard the public’s concerns and have worked to come up with a solution that keeps the Free Fare Zone while still addressing our operational and security challenges, which have always been our top priority.”
In the spring UTA entered into discussions regarding the possibility of adjusting the existing Free Fare Zone for bus. Both UTA and Salt Lake City held public hearings on the topic in June. UTA also held an online Twitter chat. Participants cited impacts to downtown businesses and low-income residents as their top concerns.
Free Fare Zone Boundaries
The boundaries of the Free Fare Zone are approximately North Temple to 500 South and 200 East to 400 West, with extensions to the State Capitol, the Salt Lake City Library, and the Salt Lake Central Station. No changes will be made to the boundaries as part of this decision.
Method of Fare Collection to Change
Effective December 9, UTA will change the way fares are collected in the downtown area. All bus fares will be collected at the beginning of the trip regardless of where the passenger boards.
Previously, bus riders starting a trip within the Free Fare Zone were required to pay their fare at the end of the trip, instead of at the beginning like other riders.
“This change will help us address some of the operational challenges of the Free Fare Zone,” Allegra said. “Reverse-fare collection was confusing for both our customers and our operators. It will simplify the system.”
Riders who are staying within the Free Fare Zone will still be able to ride buses for free; however they will be required to indicate their destination within the Free Fare Zone boundaries when they board, or they will be required to pay the fare.
TRAX will remain unchanged. A valid proof of fare payment will only be required when traveling outside of the Free Fare Zone.
The Free Fare Zone was originally established by interlocal agreement between Salt Lake City and UTA in 1996. Several changes to the Free Fare Zone have been made since that time, upon agreement between Salt Lake City and UTA.