Sunday, July 20, 2008

Article Spotlight: Two Public Transit Oriented Stories From This Morning's SL-Trib

Utah Rail Transit priorities -- Present and Future

By Curmudgeon

Two interesting stories in this morning's Salt Lake Tribune, on Frontrunner and the impact it's had already, and the future of rail transit in Utah.

The first article discusses the surprising Saturday traffic Frontrunner carries between Ogden and Salt Lake City. Just about the same number of people as it carries on Monday through Friday [commuter heavy days]. This in particular caught my eye:

Saturday trains carried an average of 7,113 people in June, compared with 7,809 on weekdays. FrontRunner does not run on Sundays.
The train has inspired a wave of intrastate tourism, and as many day-trippers are heading north to Ogden as are riding south to the bigger city, said Paul O'Brien, Utah Transit Authority rail general manager. "People get off the train [in Ogden] and ask, 'Where's a good place to eat lunch around here?' " O'Brien said.
The question is, is Ogden doing anything actively to promote, tap, assist the pleasure travelers riding the rails north?

The second article discusses the Wasatch Front's need to invest a great deal more in rail infrastructure over the next decades than in road construction, or we will find ourselves in a competitive disadvantage of significant size. Here's a taste:

The Salt Lake region and the other burgeoning "megapolitan" areas of the Intermountain West need renewed federal cooperation to build more such connections, the Washington-based Brookings Institution finds in its latest metropolitan study, "Mountain Megas: America's Newest Metropolitan Places and a Federal Partnership to Help Them Prosper." If Congress continues to shrink from infrastructure spending and to insist its money go mostly to roads, Brookings scholars predict Utah could sprawl in ways that choke productivity. The Salt Lake region must keep up with 1.5 million newcomers over 30 years.


Southsider said...

What caught my eye was a headline saying "Shine wearing thin.." and "numbers wane" about a 14% May to June drop in Saturday riders on a story that also shows a 21% May to June increase in weekday riders. What's with the negativity?

Curmudgeon said...


I wondered the same. Particularly since about six weeks after they opened the line, I was chatting with a RR worker on the train, and he said UTA had been surprised by high the level of Saturday traffic. Very surprised.

Ogden Worker said...

I work just up the street from the Frontrunner station and I've had multiple people ask for directions. As well as ask me what they should go see in Ogden, often saying "this is my first time here".

I personally don't think that Ogden has capitalized on these weekend day trippers. I would love to see a map down at the station. Even one of those "you are here" Mall maps. To fund this map the city would approch businesses and suggest a small fee to have their name on this sign.

Boom; Ogden business is seeing more customers. Day trippers have some sense of what they should see during their 1 hour stay. Hopefully their experience would be so great that they tell their SLC friends just how cool their experience was. This in turn would create more day trippers.

All this positive word of mouth advertising for the city for just a .001% of the cost of a huge icicle.

Curmudgeon said...


Yup. I've been asked, getting off the train in Ogden, twice now, "how do I get to 25th Street?" No signs pointing the way. No maps. And we had three years to get ready. And months now since it opened. Go figure.

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