BY REBECCA PALMER
BOUNTIFUL – The Utah Transit Authority takes more money from Davis County residents than it uses to serve them, and the semi-public organization is taking steps to right the imbalance.
The transit company is working with several south Davis cities and with the county government to study transit alternatives. The effort began this year.
“It stands right now that Davis County is underserved in terms of taxes paid,” said Bill Knowles, project integration manager with UTA. “They’re not in a situation right now where they’re getting their “bang for the buck.”
The latest study follows the South Davis Transit Study Alternatives Analysis, which took place in 2008. It recommended a rail line through Bountiful’s Main Street, and was heavily criticized by local leaders.
Partly because of that, Bountiful City did not contribute funds to the current study. To make up the 50 percent in matching funds to qualify for federal help, Davis County kicked in Bountiful’s portion.
South Davis residents hardly use the Frontrunner rail system at all, but about 6,000 Davis County residents use the bus system provided by UTA daily, Knowles said.
Davis County shoppers pay one quarter of one percent of sales tax to UTA in a transit tax, or about 25 cents on every $100 spent.
The transit authority recently met with Jim Smith, president of the Davis County Chamber of Commerce.
UTA needs to build on the trunk line it has already established with its rail system, Smith said.
“The goal needs to be to shoot some east-west feeders off of that,” he said. “Take that into the industrial parks, things like that, so people an get to and from work without driving cars.”
On behalf of county businesses, Smith encouraged the agency to focus on getting people from where they live to where they work, and said that asking them to walk more than half a mile wasn’t feasible.
The transit study is expected to take about one year, but no changes are likely within about five years because after the study comes a review from the Federal Transportation Administration and then, at least a year of preliminary design work.
However, this is the time to start the process, Knowles said.
“The priorities are such that everything needs to start into the queue,” he said.
In addition to meeting with local governments, UTA is meeting with local businesses, Knowles said. UTA is also working “hand in hand” with long-range planning groups Envision Utah and the Wasatch Front Regional Council.
“How do we make it better?” Knowles asked. “We don’t have any idea what that is yet.”