Students use U Card to ride UTA until passes arrive

By Jaime Winston, Staff Writer

Tori Ballif used her UTA Ed-Pass to take the bus from her home in Kaysville to the U every day last year, and she’ll use her pass to take TRAX to school this fall…as soon as it arrives.

This year, UTA ordered the Ed-Passes from China, which caused delivery delays because of increased commerce involving the Beijing Olympics. The new passes will have Electronic Fare Collection technology, allowing passengers to wave them by a scanner to open doors for TRAX, FrontRunner and UTA buses.

The advanced Ed-Passes are expected to arrive at the UCard office by Sept. 15.

Until then, students like Ballif may ride public transportation using their UCard instead. Students have until Oct. 31 to use their U Cards to ride UTA.

“I think on TRAX it won’t be as big of an issue,” said Ballif, a senior in history who has moved to downtown Salt Lake City near the TRAX line. “But if I was still taking the bus, I think that would be a bigger problem.”

Ballif said the drivers on the UTA buses she’s used have been diligent about checking every passenger’s form of payment and she worries that new drivers may not know the Ed-Passes have been delayed.

“They may give you a bit of grief or make you pay,” she said.

Carrie Bohnsack-Ware, a UTA spokesperson, said recognition of UCards as payment should not be a problem because all UTA employees have been informed of the situation.

“For right now, this is the only thing we can do to alleviate (the delay),” she said. “I guess we didn’t take into account the Olympics when we ordered them.”

The UCard system will not be flawless, Bohnsack-Ware said. Former students who still have a UCard might be able to take advantage of the delay.

“There’s not much we can do about that right now,” she said.

Jake Green, a transportation planner for the U, is not worried about past students riding with a UCard. He said the new passes will decrease the number of people sneaking on with old passes. New passes will deactivate on an expiration date, while the passes from previous years only have a deactivation date printed on them.

“Everyone pays in their tuition a transportation fee and this is what it’s going to,” Green said.

Green said he urges any students who do have a problem using a UCard or the new pass to contact U Commuter Services so the issue can be resolved.

Alisha Moody, a senior in photography, plans to take TRAX to school every day this fall.

“I ride TRAX every day and if I had to walk to school it would not be cool, so I think it’s a good use of our tuition,” Moody said.

If non-students manage to sneak on a TRAX train occasionally, Moody is not concerned.

“If people are going to ride TRAX without paying, they are going to find a way to do it,” she said. “I’m not sure if this will prevent people from taking a free ride, but it will help improve the situation.”