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Salt Lake County Gives Out Free Transit Trips to Clear the Air

Utah Transit Authority

The Salt Lake County health department is handing out thousands of free public transit passes to Salt Lake County residents. They hope the effort will get more people on buses and trains and out of personal vehicles that contribute to air pollution.

County health officials say because motor vehicle emissions make up half of the dangerous air pollution in the Salt Lake Valley, residents should try to avoid driving during the winter inversion season. And they want to help residents do that by giving away 2,000 UTA FAREPAY cards to Salt Lake County residents, preloaded with enough money for four bus or TRAX trips. Gary Edwards is executive director of the Salt Lake County Health Department.

“The public has asked, why transit is not free during inversions,” Edwards says. “What we are announcing today is a response to that request.”

Edwards says decreasing air pollution reduces emergency room visits for heart and lung problems.

“In fact, if everyone that drives to work would take transit just one day a week, ten million vehicle miles per day could be removed from the roads along the Wasatch Front,” Edwards says.

The cards will be distributed 500 at a time on a first-come-first-served basis starting this Saturday. Salt Lake County Mayor Ben McAdams says if it’s well-received, the program could continue indefinitely.

“We’ll follow up, we’ll monitor, we’ll see how successful we were in enticing people who drive to switch over and to use transit and consequently improve our air,” McAdams says.

Information about the times and locations of the giveaways can be found here.

Whittney Evans grew up southern Ohio and has worked in public radio since 2005. She has a communications degree from Morehead State University in Morehead, Kentucky, where she learned the ropes of reporting, producing and hosting. Whittney moved to Utah in 2009 where she became a reporter, producer and morning host at KCPW. Her reporting ranges from the hyper-local issues affecting Salt Lake City residents, to state-wide issues of national interest. Outside of work, she enjoys playing the guitar and getting to know the breathtaking landscape of the Mountain West.
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