Nearly two-thirds of Utahns favor giving some state transportation monies to the Utah Transit Authority, as long as the beleaguered bus and train district is reformed, a new UtahPolicy.com poll shows.

There are several bills that deal with transportation governance, raising taxes or fees for transportation for mass transit districts and changing how the Utah Transit Authority is operated.

One of these is SB136, which would reduce the UTA board of trustees to just three full-time commissioners.

Several years ago, the Legislature authorized an increase in local sales tax to mass transit and local roads, as long as individual counties’ voters approved of the funding.

But the tax hike was rejected in Salt Lake and Utah counties – two of UTA’s largest operating areas.

Now the question before lawmakers is: What do we do about mass transit operations in the state?

A special task force studied the issue last year – and after several failed attempts at reaching an agreement voted to cut the 16-member, part-time UTA board down to three full-time commissioners – picked by the governor and local entities where UTA operates and confirmed by the state Senate.

SB136 remains on the Senate floor calendar, held for now. But lawmakers adjourn March 8, so the bill will have to start moving if it is to pass.

UtahPolicy pollster Dan Jones & Associates finds:

  • 64 percent of Utahns support giving some state transportation money to UTA if the agency is reformed.

  • 20 percent oppose giving any state funds to the agency.

  • And 17 percent don’t know.

 

By and large, Democrats and liberals support taxpayer subsidized mass transit, Republicans and conservatives are more cautious.

Jones finds:

  • Republicans support more transportation dollars going to UTA, 60-23 percent.

  • Democrats favor it, 73-9 percent.

  • Political independents favor more state money if UTA is reformed, 67-19 percent.

Those who told Jones they are “very conservative” politically barely like the idea, 51-32 percent.

The “somewhat conservative” like it, 64-19 percent.

“Moderates” approve of transportation monies going to a reformed UTA, 66-17 percent.

Those who said they are “somewhat liberal,” 76-8 percent.

And those who told Jones they are “very liberal,” 83-2 percent in favor.

Jones polled 609 adults from Feb. 9-16. The survey has a margin of error of plus or minus. 4 percent.