It took Utahns just 26 hours to snap up all the 2,500 free, weeklong passes offered by the Utah Transit Authority to help reduce air pollution during July, typically one of the worst months for air quality in Utah. With that popularity, UTA says more free passes will likely be coming soon.
Zions Bank and UTA announced through social media on Monday at 11 a.m. that they teamed to make the free passes available online through the Ride Clear program. The last of the available passes disappeared online about 1:30 p.m. Tuesday, said UTA spokesman Remi Barron.
"We're happy that people are taking advantage of the program, and that there are now 2,500 passes in the hands of people who will use it next month when typically the air gets bad," Barron said. The passes are valued at $50 and are good for seven consecutive days of unlimited travel anytime in July on TRAX, FrontRunner and UTA buses.
"We decided that because this was a success and people are really interested in it, we're going to give out some more passes. We just haven't decided when yet," he said. "We had always planned that we were going to see how this first round went and then go from there. We are going to give out some more down the road."
Passes, when available, are offered online at utarideclear.com. That website also invites people to follow the program on Facebook for announcement of future giveaways.
Earlier this year, Rep. Joel Briscoe, D-Salt Lake City, asked the Legislature to spend $9 million to allow everyone to ride UTA for free in July and January. He said that would allow collecting data on how free fares would increase ridership and help reduce air pollution during two of the worst months for air pollution. But budget writers did not act on his request.