November 5, 2013

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Up to Speed

A Look at the Utah Transit Authority

By Rachel Madison | Photos Courtesy of UTA

November 5, 2013

Allegra says he hopes to be able to restore routes that were cut in the future, but he’s waiting to see what the economy will do. “We have the resources necessary to run what we own, and we’ve pledged to the public to not go into the red. If we didn’t do what we’ve done, we’d be in the worst shape. I believe we took the right approach.”

Employee Compensation

Employees’ compensations are decided by the UTA board. “All of our compensations are based on a very methodical process that’s akin to most other organizations our size,” Allegra says. “To be honest, we pay an average or slightly below average wage to all employees.”

Allegra says when comparing his salary to other transit organizations, he is also below the average. Allegra’s annual salary of $223,979, which doesn’t include bonuses or benefits, is below the average among more than 40 transit authorities’ general managers’ salaries across the nation, including Washington, D.C.; New York City; Richland, Wash.; and Logan, Utah.

When it comes to bonuses, Allegra says employees are awarded based on goals the organization reaches. Last year, Allegra, along with other high-level executives, received bonuses ranging from $12,000 to $25,000, according to the Utah Public Finance website.

“We’ve had an incentive program at UTA for a decade or more,” Allegra says. “Recognition of our employees’ great work is very important.”

Allegra says the goals UTA must achieve in order to qualify for bonuses are increasing ridership each year, working on cost effectiveness, which is measured in terms of the investment per rider, and securing funding outside of what UTA normally receives. “These are pretty substantive, hard-hitting goals and I’m proud that we make those goals most of the time, but not all of the time,” he says. “We still have a lot of work to do.”

 

Future Plans

With the recent completion of the Draper TRAX line in August and the soon-to-be-completed Sugarhouse streetcar, Allegra says UTA doesn’t have any big construction plans in the near future. The organization’s goal is to work on operational excellence by restoring services cut during the Great Recession, reducing debt from already completed projects and maintaining the system already in place.

“We’re not expanding the system until we get additional resources,” Allegra says. “But there are specific transportation projects that are being looked at. There are hundreds of miles being thought of throughout the valley that we could bring services to. There are extensions to TRAX being considered, a multitude of street cars and high speed rail. Every one of them is being worked on.”

Another future goal Allegra has is to make all of UTA’s services available through distance-based fares.

“In the future, as opposed to a flat fare, we’ll charge on a per-mile basis,” he says. “We will initiate public involvement in the next couple of months. Some people will like the change and some won’t, but we want to find that medium where we can get the best value for what we’re charging and have it be fair.”

Allegra says he can’t put a date on when the new fare technology will be available, but once the public involvement process starts, he hopes it will take less than two years to put into service.

Overall, Allegra says UTA is doing its best to provide the Wasatch Front with what it needs in transportation. “We will be diligent and assertive in finding the best, most creative and most innovative ways to deliver the services we can with the resources we have,” Allegra says. “I’d like to think we are a participant in how we shape the community for the future.”   

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