(KCPW News) Clean air advocates say Utahns should be able to use public transportation for free on days when the air quality is unhealthy, but transit officials worry about whether it will work and who would cover the cost. KCPW’s Jessica Gail reports.
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Jessica Gail… In your reporting, you allowed the UTA spokesperson to say it would cost them upwards of $100,000 PER Red Air Day. Stating that would be the “lost” revenue to UTA for letting fare paying riders, ride free. However, the math seems very easy to do, and the UTA budget is available online. Jessica, UTA’s Annual Passenger Revenue is $33million total. Dividing that number by let’s say 300 service days a year (give or take, but to make the math easier)…and you have $110,000 of Total Rider Revenue Per Day! You just allowed the UTA spokesperson to tell you that basically UTA would lose 100% of its daily revenue if they let people ride free on Red Air Days, and then gave it equal time and weight in the story as if it could possibly be true (which it is quite evident that it is Not True).
More important though then letting him get-away with over inflating the costs in an unrealistic manner and not having UTA provide support for the comments….is reporting the numbers in a vacuum. $100,000 per Red Air Day of lost revenue sounds like a lot of money; which of course was the UTA spokesperson goal to make it sound that way. The Reporters job is to put that number into perspective to give it meaning for the listener, so that number doesn’t just hang there meaning nothing. UTA has annual operating revenue of around $270Million dollars (63% of which comes from State Sales Tax revenue, thus haven’t we all kinda paid for maybe a ride or two already just by paying the taxes?). So if UTA really did lose $100K per Red Air Day of rider revenue (even though we now know that can’t possibly be right)…and it was a really horrible year of upwards of 50 Red Air Days as the spokesperson suggested…That would be a total “cost” (or lost revenue) of…$5Million dollars out of a $270Million Revenue (a .02% reduction in revenue). That is the hold up for UTA to provide free rider-ship on Red Air Days…a Point Zero Two Percent reduction in revenue. I feel as though in the reporting of this story, some serious facts were left out, and KCPW listeners were allowed to be manipulated in an attempt to “be fair”. Without the greater perspective of the true numbers and where UTA revenue really comes from (Us paying taxes)…I feel the story put an unfair slant of presumed equality between the sides of the argument.