6 out of 10 Utahns live in a community with transit, decisionmakers should know the system.
The Utah Transit Riders Union (UTRU) launched an online petition on their website (www.utru.org) Monday as part of their Transit Everywhere, All The Time (TrEATT) initiative that is encouraging people to add their name to the growing number of Utahns calling upon lawmakers to use state dollars to provide ongoing support to Utah’s seven transit systems.
“Every year lawmakers spend millions of dollars on road maintenance and facilities across the state,” Curtis Haring, Executive Director of UTRU said in a statement, “but, despite 6 out of 10 Utahns living in a community serviced by transit, lawmakers seem content to let local communities bear the brunt of the costs, making it harder to build quality systems.”
UTRU will also use the petitions to challenge local, regional, and state leaders to ride the systems their constituents depend on every day. The organization will provide rider training to these leaders and ask them to use their local systems to the best of their ability for one week. After the week is over, UTRU will ask what worked, what didn’t, and how they feel they might be able to improve the system for their communities. The organization has identified over 1,200 decisionmakers across the state and will contact as many as possible to join in what UTRU is calling the “7-Day Challenge.”
UTRU President, Dr. John Pearson, noted that “Investments in transit benefit everyone, even if you never get on to a bus or train. When we help unburden transit districts with debt and allow them to invest in new routes or improve existing ones, more people will ride. When more people ride, streets become safer as traffic is reduced, neighborhoods become more walkable, communities become more economically vibrant, and cities can open up more space to homes, offices, parks, and more with space that was once occupied by parking lots.”
“And don’t forget,” Pearson added, “that the pollution coming out of tailpipes doesn’t stop at the border between communities that invest in transit and those that do not.”
UTRU’s concern lies in the fact that policymakers are often disconnected from this important community investment, and are only interested in funding big-ticket projects, but not the day-to-day needs of these systems.
“When the state does give money to transit districts, it is usually so that they can cut a ribbon later,” Chris Stout, UTRU Co-Founder and current Treasurer added. “But they don’t seem to care about putting the burden on communities to keep paying for buses, trains, operators, and maintenance crews. They are fine putting that problem on the books for transit providers. Utahns use transit every day, and we all benefit from it.”
To learn more, sign the petition, and sign up for the challenge, visit https://utru.org/TrEATT.
Curtis Haring | UTRU Executive Director – email@example.com, 801-891-5507
Dr. John Pearson | UTRU President – firstname.lastname@example.org, 978-979-3043
Chris Stout | UTRU Co-Founder and Treasurer – email@example.com, 801-651-5561