We’ve heard from many riders who have questions about how UTA sets its schedule on and around holidays.
If money and stewardship were no object, UTA would run service every day of the year and likely would have continued to operate low-ridership late night service as we did for many years. Unfortunately, in the last few years the agency has been hit hard by the affects of the recession. This has required the agency to make some difficult decisions about where to allocate funding for operations.
When budgetary constraints have demanded a cut in service, UTA has based its decisions on which of the available options would have the least impact on our riders. We have found that we can affect the fewest number of people by focusing first on service when ridership is low, in off peak hours and on days where the system typically carries fewer people. Holidays and holiday weekends tend to have much lower commuter/student traffic (the bulk of our ridership) than regular weekdays.
Let’s take TRAX for example. On a typical Friday in November 2010, TRAX carried approximately 3,000 riders between 7-8 a.m. On Black Friday of that same year, TRAX carried less than one-third the regular Friday average – about 850 riders. Ridership increased in 2011, but the numbers show a similar pattern. On an average Friday in November 2011, TRAX carried just over 4,000 passengers from 7-8 a.m. While on Black Friday during the same time period, it carried less than a fourth that number.
Historically, ridership has picked up after 10 a.m. Last year, 1,897 people boarded between 10-11 a.m. Certainly not the type of numbers you’d see during peak commute hours, but it ends up being about 71% of normal Friday ridership at that particular time point. The busiest travel hours on Black Friday have traditionally occurred after 5 p.m.
Even with a University of Utah football game in the afternoon and all of the lights on ceremonies last year, we carried fewer total riders than we did on typical Friday in November.
For a more complete analysis, review the 2010 and 2011 TRAX ridership data.
To meet the 2012 budget, but also accommodate the largest number of riders UTA planned its Black Friday service accordingly. This year, as part of the Thanksgiving weekend, the service has been adjusted. Service on TRAX begins at about 9 a.m. and extends well into the evening with trains running until after 10 p.m.
Bus and FrontRunner perform similarly on the holiday weekend.
We understand that this adjustment will impact some of our regular riders. However, this decision allows us to maintain more regular service throughout the rest of the year.
2012 Holiday Schedule
- Thanksgiving Day (Nov. 22) Ski service only on Bus. No TRAX or FrontRunner service.
- Day After Thanksgiving (Nov. 23) Sunday schedule service on Bus. Extended Saturday service on TRAX. Saturday schedule on FrontRunner.
- Christmas Eve (Dec. 24) Regular schedule service on Bus, TRAX and FrontRunner.
- Christmas (Dec. 25) Ski service only on Bus. No TRAX or FrontRunner service.
- New Year’s Eve (Dec. 31) Regular weekday service on Bus, TRAX and FrontRunner.
- New Year’s Day (Jan. 1) Ski service only on Bus. No TRAX or FrontRunner service.