Using UTA? Bill would protect data on who's going where

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Where and when people travel on mass transit would be kept private under a bill the Utah Senate passed Wednesday and sent to the House.

SB12, passed on a 27-0 vote, would prohibit releasing such information under open-records law requests. Its sponsor, Sen. Kevin Van Tassell, R-Vernal, said that is needed because the Utah Transit Authority is moving toward more use of electronic passes for fares, which can track where and when passengers travel.

UTA has said it already has had requests from, for example, divorce attorneys seeking to prove an affair by a spouse, but feels the information should be kept private.

UTA says it plans to eliminate cash for fares by 2020, and require purchase of passes or prepaid cards (which could be bought at a variety of stores). It is also moving toward distance-based fares that would use GPS technology to track how far passengers travel, and charge fares accordingly.

Van Tassell noted that last year, the Legislature passed a similar bill to prohibit disclosing data about drivers who use transponders to pay tolls in high occupancy vehicle lanes on freeways.

Lee Davidson