It is summer so that means higher gas prices. Gas prices in Utah are currently at an average of $3.64 per gallon, making public transit an affordable alternative to driving. Salt Lake City is offering an incentive to residents looking to save some money this summer. Since March, the city has offered the Hive Pass, an annual Utah Transit Agency (UTA) transit pass that is offered at a significantly reduced price.
The Hive Pass is good for travel on all rail and regular bus routes. At $350 a year (or $360 if you pay in 12 monthly installments of $30), public transit becomes significantly more affordable than driving. The standard one-way fare on UTA buses and trains is $2.50, or $5.00 for round-trips. The price for a standard adult monthly pass is $83.75.
“The Hive Pass is available for essentially what a rider would spend on six round-trips a month, and I look forward to the program creating many new transit users and getting more cars off the roads,” Mayor Ralph Becker told the Salt Lake Tribune in February.
Gas prices tend to be the highest during the peak summer travel months. Currently, a driving trip for a car averaging 25 miles per gallon from Salt Lake to Ogden or Provo costs close to $7.00 each way. With the Hive Pass a driver could make daily trips to trips to either Ogden or Provo for the same price of two round trips a month.
The financial benefit to mass transit is not the only reason for the city encouraging residents to drive less. The Salt Lake area’s winter and summer inversions have gained national attention and has been cited as an impediment to economic growth. Rep. Joel Briscoe, D-Salt Lake City proposed the idea of free or reduced transit rides during red days (days where pollution levels are highest) while Rep. Marie Poulson, D-Cottonwood Heights proposed tax breaks for mass transit users. Both those initiatives have failed to make progress in the Utah State Legislature.
Salt Lake County residents proved that free transit passes increase ridership. The RideClear program, a collaboration between UTA, Zion’s Bank, The Utah Realtors Association and Utah Clean Air Partnership, distributed 7,000 free weekly passes which resulted in over 28,000 trips between the months of February and April.
Salt Lake City has taken the initiative to bypass the state level and work directly with UTA to subsidize monthly transit passes for city residents. Salt Lake announced the Hive Pass earlier this year, but in the nearly four months that the pass has been available the city has just sold under 2,000 passes.
To qualify you must reside within Salt Lake City limits. To apply you must bring a state-issued photo idea and a lease or two documents proving residence. You can see if you qualify for a Hive pass by clicking here.