It is February in Utah, and for some tourists, that might simply mean a trip to ski in the state's iconic mountains during the snowy season. But locals know that the heart of winter brings a toxic smog, sometimes so thick that residents can hardly see a few blocks down the street. Luckily, a few legislators are trying to change that.
Sign now to demand that Utahns have access to free transit all year round!
One brilliant idea proposed by grassroots organizations, and in turn supported by the state's Clean Air Caucus, is to make public transit in the state permanently free. Research has repeatedly shown that car emissions contribute heavily to the seasonal smog, which makes Salt Lake City one of the most polluted metro areas in the country year after year. By already creating 'Fare Free February' – which encourages public transit use during one of the state's worst air quality months -- the state has demonstrated an understanding that making transit accessible benefits all residents greatly. Now, Utah legislators must expand the existing program!
Like many other cities, the Salt Lake City metro area was built for cars. This may seem like an innocent accident of history, but in reality, massively profitable car manufacturers pressured cities around the country to scrap plans for public transit and walking access, forcing car dependency and raking in the profits. This has made all of our lives measurably worse by decreasing the accessibility of cities, increasing the time wasted on commutes in cars, increasing vehicular accidents, and wasting precious urban space on dangerous roadways. It has also affected Utah acutely – one study even suggests that "air pollution is the cause of between 2,500 and 8,000 premature deaths in Utah each year." But as environmental organizers and disability rights activists around the country increasingly put pressure on local and state legislatures to improve public transit access, the tide is turning for gas-guzzling vehicles of the past.The history of cars in cities is a messy one, forced upon many communities by political lobbying and corruption. But it doesn't have to be this way. The Utah Legislature must pass HB164 to show a commitment to improving local air quality and making the city more accessible. Utah has the potential to lead the way in transforming cities to be more sustainable and equitable! Sign the petition now to put pressure on legislators to pass this groundbreaking bill!