UTA and Prop 1 advocates detail how new money would be used

Proponents of Prop 1 and the Utah Transit Authority (UTA) are reaching out to residents to inform them of the potential transportation enhancements possible if Prop 1, a local option sales tax for transportation funding, is approved by voters this November.

In a possible response to previous criticisms of a lack of transparency, UTA has launched Open UTA, a multi-format friendly online survey that allows visitors to rank service needs and provide feedback.

In collaboration with Open UTA, the transit agency will host a series of open houses at various transit stations along the Wasatch Front.  The first two open houses are scheduled for the Ogden Transit Center on September 24, from 6 to 9 a.m. and again at 3 to 6 p.m.

Prop 1 supporters, led by the Utahns for Responsible Transportation Investment and the Prop 1: One for All campaign, have launched an iPhone app that informs residents of the transportation needs in their area.  Residents in Davis, Salt Lake, Utah and Weber Counties can search transportation projects by zip code.  The app is intended to show residents the type of transportation repairs and enhancements that could be actualized by new revenue if Prop 1 is approved. 

If approved, residents would pay 0.25 percent more in sales tax.  The tax increase would be designated for local transportation needs including: local roads, transit service, trails and sidewalks.  Forty percent of the revenue from the sales tax increase would be allocated to local municipalities, another 40 percent would go to UTA, with counties receiving 20 percent.

UTA can’t legally advocate for a sales tax increase, but transit officials have promised to focus on improvements to bus service if Prop 1 passes.  In August, the UTA Board of Trustees passed a resolution that commits to more frequent buses with longer hours of service and more weekend routes if new funds are available.  According to UTA officials the tax increase would augment the agency’s budget by 13 percent.

Salt Lake City stands to benefit the most from the proposed sales tax increase.  The City is currently gathering public feedback for its first ever, Transit Master Plan.  The City is hosting an open house Wednesday, September 23rd at 5 p.m. at Harmon’s City Creek to gather public input.  The final draft of Transit Plan isn’t scheduled for completion until just after November’s Prop 1 vote.

UTA released a service improvement map showing how new funds would be used. Only one new Salt Lake route appears on the map, a route that would connect the Foxboro neighborhood in North Salt Lake to Bountiful, Woods Cross and Salt Lake via Redwood Road.  The map shows that most bus routes in Salt Lake would longer hours or service, increased frequency and more weekend service.

Posted by Isaac Riddle

Isaac Riddle grew up just outside of Salt Lake City, Utah. He has a BA in English literature from the University of Utah and a Masters of Journalism from Temple University. Isaac has written for Next City, The Philadelphia Public School Notebook and Salt Lake City Weekly. Before embarking on a career in journalism, Isaac taught High School English in the Kensington neighborhood of Philadelphia. Isaac is the founder of Building Salt Lake and can be reached at isaac@buildingsaltlake.com.