Brigham Young University, Utah Valley University and the Utah Transit Authority are partnering to provide the universities’ students, faculty, staff and dependents free premium UTA passes for the next 10 years, the organizations announced Thursday afternoon.
“UTA is grateful to BYU and UVU for making these benefits more accessible to more people and for making transit a more integral part of their universities and this regions future,” said Jerry Benson, CEO of UTA. “With this program and UTA’s opening of the Provo-Orem Bus Rapid Transit project in August 2018, students will have easy access to the whole region without having to have a car.”
The premium passes — which typically cost $198 per year — include the use of local bus, express bus, ski bus, TRAX, streetcar and FrontRunner transportation systems.
Together Benson along with the two universities’ presidents made the announcement in the parking lot at the corner of University Pkwy. and University Ave., which is considered the crossroads of BYU and UVU.
“It’s not just about getting people from point A to point B, but about reducing traffic congestion and improving the air quality,” said BYU President Kevin Worthen.
BYU will provide all of its students, faculty, staff and staff dependents with premium passes over the next 10 years. Worthen said the program makes sense for BYU after BYU has seen success with its free shuttle service that the university began in 2012. The shuttle provides 8,500 rides on campus every day, Worthen said.
“We’re doing this because of parking,” said UVU President Matt Holland. “It’s the number one concern of students,” Holland said. “We want them more focused on education and academic issues than transportation and parking issues. We do it for congestion.”
“Today we’re going to make the valley greener as a result our skies will be bluer,” Holland said, referencing the neighboring universities different school colors.
The Bus Rapid Transit system — a bus system that has allotted lanes from Orem to Provo for quicker transportation — will also be included in the premium pass. BRT will cover a 1-mile stretch of the route for dedicated lanes the city; there will be 6.9 miles of BRT in Provo, and the total project is 10.5 miles. The route will start on University Avenue at the Provo FrontRunner station, then turn on 700 North, go across 700 East over to 900 North and then up onto 900 East to University Parkway into Orem, to Utah Valley University and ending at the Orem FrontRunner station.
UTA hopes to have BRT operating by August 2018.