"Regardless of the era, I think the challenge is always the same: "How can we better serve our riders and do more for less with limited resources?"
Founded in 1970 and headquartered in Salt Lake City, the Utah Transit Authority (UTA) is responsible for ferrying nearly 47 million passengers across the Wasatch Front region of the United States every year.
Ahead of SmartTransit LA, we sat down with Monica Morton, UTA's Fares Director, for a quick chat about her job, the sector's payment advances, and UTA's latest projects.
Monica will be a speaker in SmartTransit LA on October 28-30th. where she will talk about the latest integrated payment advances in a series of presentations relevant to industry experts and decision makers alike. Join us at LA for the full topic, and read a taste of her best insights below, after the break.
First off, a bit of background: How did you started your current career path, what does your position as Fares Director entails?
I have been in public transit for the past 10 years working for the Utah Transit Authority (“UTA”). I started when UTA launched the nation’s first account-based open payment system for fare collection, which captures ridership data while enabling riders to pay their fare electronically. I was heavily involved in this launch and the operational functionality of the system.
I was hired as the Fares Director almost a year ago. Now, I oversee fare policy development and implementation, fare revenue collections, fare operations, reporting and analysis, and bulk pass program administration.
How has the rail industry changed since you started working in it?
One big change is the way fares are collected from riders. It’s been fascinating to see how major advancements in technology have impacted traditional payment processes and fare media. The way people get around and pay for transit is growing leaps and bounds. It’s great to be part of such a drastic transformation.
What industry challenges do you identify as the most pressing ones, and how is UTA tackling them?
Regardless of the era, I think the challenge is always the same: "How can we better serve our riders and do more for less with limited resources?"
Are there any past projects in your life you're proud of? Are there any upcoming ones you're excited about?
I participated in the design and implementation of UTA’s prepaid electronic fare card. It was an exciting but challenging project. It’s rewarding to see people using the FAREPAY card to pay for their transit trips, and our revenue from that payment type has grown substantially over the years. It’s convenient having data from these trips so we can learn more about our riders and their travel patterns.
As for upcoming projects, UTA is launching a microtransit pilot later this year, and I’m excited to be a part of this pilot as it relates to fare payment.
What current and possible future trends in the sector interest you the most?
I’m extremely interested in seeing how the growing landscape of mobility options will work together over time, especially for transit agencies trying to simplify fare payment.
What's the biggest professional challenge you've ever faced?
My role as the Fares Director is definitely challenging, right now. The reason I accepted this position almost a year ago is because I enjoy being challenged in my career; in my opinion, it’s one of the best ways to grow and learn new things. Challenges flex my problem-solving skills and keep me on my toes!
Finally, a question we ask all our interviewees: what's your favourite rail journey in the world, and why?
Riding UTA’s FrontRunner train is my preferred trip! Mainly because I haven’t experienced many rail systems throughout the world! FrontRunner travels along the beautiful Wasatch Mountains that sit right at the edge of Salt Lake City, Ogden, and Provo. I hope to expand my rail experiences with more leisure travel in the future.
To meet Monica and other fantastic industry speakers, decision makers, and experts, join us at SmartTransit LA 2019, on October 28-30th!