UTA, UVU, BYU partner to provide free public transit to students

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Photo by Kimberly Bojorquez

Administrators from Utah Transit Authority, UVU and BYU, announced a combined public transportation and university 10-year initiative to provide free access for transportation via public transit to over 100,000 students staff and their families by August 2018.

The special announcement was celebrated with a small group of UTA employees, project planners, university administrators, including UVU President Holland, and current transit riders. They were framed by two of UTA’s brand new, hybrid-electric busses set to begin their routes in coming months.

Jerry Benson, president of UTA, Kevin Worthen, president of BYU and Holland spearheaded the project with the hope that it will complete three major goals for Utah County: faster transit to school, work, recreation, friends and family; improving air quality and economic growth, reducing traffic congestion and parking problems at universities; and making access to public transit easier and more affordable to over 100,000 people.

“Traffic is a number one concern for us as a school; our students and faculty tell us that parking is a major concern for them,” said Holland in his official statement for the joint-venture announcement.

Holland explained that the university is taking a lead role in the project because it hopes to address the growing congestion problem at UVU by encouraging use of public transportation services.

The all-access pass provided to students, staff and dependents will provide usage for UTA’s “regular” and “premium” services including regular UTA bus routes, the FrontRunner and TRAX. The program will start in August 2018 and continue for 10 years. 50,000 passes will be provided for UVU usage for $1 million.

As reported in The Review on Nov. 16, school administrators will be increasing the annual school parking fee from $90 to $115 the increase in price is intended to encourage the use of public transit to and from campus rather than private vehicles.

“UVU has more than 37,000 students, and that number is projected to increase to 46,000 by 2025,” Holland said in the University’s official press release. “We want our students to focus on their academic careers and not on transportation and parking.”

Project leaders know that a closer, more tightly knit Utah Valley doesn’t need to be a more congested one UVU recognized that nearly 4,000 students at UVU live within a half-mile of a UTA bus stop, and UTA’s Bus-Rapid-Transit project will help make the commute to campus even faster.

Holland also wants students to know that a change to the use of public transit is not going to be a major change for students rather it will bring the community closer together.

Holland remarked that the joint announcement signaled months of cooperative effort on the part of both UVU and BYU to address a problem felt across the Valley. Despite an increased sense of competition and school pride that distances the schools, this announcement took place at a symbolic crossroad between the two universities  University Avenue and University Parkway.

“The goal to improve the air-quality and be more eco-friendly will benefit the county as well by making the valley a little greener and the skies a little bluer,” Holland said.