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Transit Ridership Jumps

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Utah Transit Authority
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Americans are using public transit more than ever. And Utahns are part of that trend.

A new report says Americans took a record 10.7 billion trips last year on public transportation. The Utah Transit Agency has seen a similar trend. Its trains, buses and trolleys logged 44 million trips last year -- more than ever before.

  American Fork resident Greg Davidson rides the new FrontRunner line from where he lives in Utah County into Salt Lake City a few times a month. Today he’s headed to the airport on the new TRAX line.

“I have ridden more in the last year,” says Davidson, “than I have done in the last ten years just because FrontRunner has made it easy for me to get into town, and then the TRAX makes it easy to navigate the city.”

Davidson likes the convenience, too.

“I like the fact that I can do work and be on my iPad and check my emails and get some good things done on the commute in.”

UTA officials say one reason for the increase is 56 miles of new service. That includes the FrontRunner South line, the airport line, the Draper TRAX extension and the Sugarhouse Streetcar.

Salt Lake City is also trying to make transit more appealing. It’s just started a new Hive Pass for residents that costs $360 a year.

Robin Hutcheson, who heads the city’s transportation division, says a new transit master plan aims to find out what residents want most.

“We want transit to be a convenient choice for every single one of our residents,” says Hutcheson. “And, in some cases, it will be the first choice for those who choose not to drive.”

UTA officials say ridership on FrontRunner more than doubled last year. And TRAX ridership increased nearly 7 percent. They say they expect even more gains next year.

Judy Fahys has reported in Utah for two decades, covering politics, government and business before taking on environmental issues. She loves covering Utah, where petroleum-pipeline spills, the nation’s radioactive legacy and other types of pollution provide endless fodder for stories. Previously, she worked for the Salt Lake Tribune in Utah, and reported on the nation’s capital for States News Service and the Scripps League newspaper chain. She is a longtime member of the Society of Environmental Journalists and Investigative Reporters and Editors. She also spent an academic year as a research fellow in the Knight Science Journalism program at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. In her spare time, she enjoys being out in the environment, especially hiking, gardening and watercolor painting.
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