How did UTA’s Free Fare February play out?

Apr 6, 2022, 4:58 PM
A train at a stop during Free Fare February....
UTA Trax train stops at the North Temple Bridge/Guadalupe Station in Salt Lake City on Thursday, March 10, 2022. Photo credit: Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News.

SALT LAKE CITY — The Utah Transit Authority released its final report on Free Fare February on Wednesday. Free Fare February was an effort by UTA and Salt Lake City to improve air quality and to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the city’s 2002 Olympic Winter Games.

Results from Free Fare February

UTA reported it saw a bump in ridership during Free Fare February, especially during weekends, compared with January ridership.

Chairman of the Board of the UTA Carlton Christensen spoke to Jeff Caplan’s Afternoon News about the bump in ridership.

“Overall on weekdays we saw just a little over 16% [increased] ridership but on the weekends we had 58% increase on Saturdays and 32% on Sundays. And on Sundays, we don’t run FrontRunner service so that’s pretty telling,” Christensen said.

Salt Lake City Mayor Erin Mendenhall said the month proved that people are more likely to use public transit when barriers like cost are removed.

For its report, UTA surveyed riders during the month of February. Over half of the riders surveyed said they rode in February because the fare was free.

Mendenhall originally suggested the idea of Free Fare February.

Christensen said that February’s increased ridership also stood out because of the negative impact the pandemic had on the transportation industry.

“Transit was hit pretty hard when people quit going to work and school and it’s slowly been coming back. But this was a nice bump over the prior month and certainly over the last two years.”

UTA going forward

UTA thinks more people will turn to public transit after testing it out for free, according to Christensen. UTA’s report noted that 21.8% of riders surveyed in February were new to riding transit.

Christensen said there could be more free riding opportunities in the future for extended periods. He said those opportunities might come particularly during times of poor air quality. 

Free Fare February was a success, according to Christensen, highlighting the focus on transit from both local officials and the public.

Related: UTA gives safety tips after FrontRunner car crash


Hatch courthouse...
Kira Hoffelmeyer

Utah’s longest serving senator, Orrin Hatch, dies at 88

Orrin Hatch, Utah's longest serving senator, has died at age 88.
5 months ago
Pictured here are items seized from one of four drug busts authorities in Carbon County conducted o...
Mark Jones

Carbon County authorities make significant drug busts

Authorities in Carbon County, with a search warrant, have conducted four drug busts over the past three weeks.
6 months ago
Mark Jones

Soap box derby set for Saturday in Daybreak

Daybreak will host the second annual Soap Box Derby on Saturday from noon to 3 p.m.
6 months ago
State street traffic sign...
Samantha Herrera

State Street traffic restrictions starting soon

State Street traffic restrictions are slated to start soon and continue into August. Work will impact areas downtown and near the Capitol.
6 months ago
Garth Brooks Salt Lake...
Simone Seikaly

Garth Brooks sells out second Salt Lake concert in 45 minutes

It was the second time in less than a year that Garth Brooks sold that many tickets for a Salt Lake City concert so quickly.
6 months ago
A Smith's recycling bin...
Devin Oldroyd

Recycle single-use plastic at your local Smith’s

In honor of Earth Month, Smith's Food & Drug is encouraging its customers to recycle thin-filter plastic materials at their local stores.
6 months ago

Sponsored Articles

Prescription opioid...
Know Your Script

Prescription opioid misuse | How to protect your family from the opioid epidemic

Studies have shown that prescription opioid misuse has increased since COVID-19. So what do you need to know about these opioids?

Tax Tuesday: The Most Common Mistakes People Make When Filing Their Taxes

Fortunately, for most average earners, they will not end up owing overpayments received for the Child Tax Credit in 2021.

Tax Tuesday: How will last year’s child tax credits affect you?

Fortunately, for most average earners, they will not end up owing overpayments received for the Child Tax Credit in 2021.

Tax Tuesday: Key Information Before the Filing Deadline

Businesses can receive a credit of up to $5,000 per employee in 2020 and up to $21,000 per employee in 2021.
national heart month...
Intermountain Healthcare

National Heart Month: 5 Lifestyle Changes to Make Today to Keep You Heart Healthy

Heart disease is the leading cause of death for both men and women. One person dies every 36 seconds in the United States from cardiovascular disease
Joseph Smith Memorial Building...
Temple Square

The Joseph Smith Memorial Building is an icon of Salt Lake City | Why hosting an event at this beautiful location will make you a hero this year

Here's why hosting an event at the iconic Joseph Smith Memorial Building in downtown Salt Lake City will make you a hero this year.
How did UTA’s Free Fare February play out?