The Utah Transit Authority Was recently honored as the 2014 Outstanding Public Transportation System by the American Public Transportation Association (APTA), the international organization representing the transit industry in the United States and Canada.

Photo courtesy of UTA
The Airport and Draper TRAX light rail lines were among four new lines that UTA opened in the 12-month period ending in Dec. 2013.

The award is considered the most prestigious of all honors to be handed out at APTA’s national convention in October. It is bestowed on public transportation systems that have demonstrated “achievement in efficiency and effectiveness.” There are three such awards based on the size of the transit system. UTA won in the largest category, for systems providing 20 million or more annual passenger trips.

UTA General manager Michael Allegra, who oversaw a year of record ridership, topping 44 million boardings, and the opening of multiple new rail lines, will accept the award on behalf of the agency.

“This is a great honor for UTA and confirmation from our peers across the country of what our loyal customers already know, that we have the best multi-modal transit system in the United States,” said Allegra. “Just as we are always studying other transit systems, likewise our peer transit agencies have been contacting us asking for our help, so that they can learn from our experience during a time of record growth. We are more than happy to share what we have learned by building this system, which is no small undertaking. I want to thank all of our 2,200 dedicated employees who have made this possible.”

Besides achieving an all-time high in ridership in 2013, UTA concluded its FrontLines 2015 program with the opening of the Airport and Draper TRAX light rail lines. Additionally, in a 12-month period ending in December 2013, UTA opened four rail lines, including one commuter rail line, two light rail lines and Utah’s first modern streetcar line.

These new rail lines were part of UTA’s FrontLines 2015 project, which included four light rail lines and one commuter rail line. The ambitious undertaking broke ground in 2008 with a plan to build 70 miles of rail in seven years. The program was completed two years ahead of schedule and $300 million under budget.

APTA describes its awards as “given to those individuals and organizations that have made outstanding contributions to the public transportation industry in North America. Winning an APTA Award means that you are ‘the best of the best’ and a distinguished leader.”

“Congratulations to the Utah Transit Authority for winning the prestigious 2014 Outstanding Public Transportation System Achievement Award,” said APTA President and CEO Michael Melaniphy. “Winning this means that UTA is the best large public transportation system in North America. With aggressive and successful rail expansion, it’s not surprising that UTA saw record breaking ridership growth in 2013. As a leader in innovation, both in operations and sustainability, UTA is a role model for other public transit agencies. UTA deserves this high honor.”

This is the fourth time UTA has been named APTA Outstanding Public Transportation System.