A Call for Minimum Service Standards

» All across the country, transit agencies are opening new rail lines with inadequate service.

At $37 million for two miles of track, Salt Lake City’s new S-Line, sometimes referred to as the Sugar House Streetcar, was one of the cheapest rail transit projects recently completed in the United States, with per-mile costs equivalent to the typical bus rapid transit project. From a capital cost perspective, it’s a great success.

Too bad the S-Line is such a dud when it comes to ridership. According to recent data from the local transit system, the project is serving fewer than 1,000 riders a day, far fewer than the 3,000 expected for the project. One explanation is that the short route doesn’t attract many people. Another is that the line’s frequency is simply too low to convince people to orient their lives around it.

The thing is, providing new rail lines isn’t enough – service standards really matter when it

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Two Light Rail Extensions for Salt Lake, with More on the Way

Salt Lake City TRAX MAX

» An extensive network of rail and bus corridors spreads out across the Wasatch Front.

Much thanks to federal spending, the Salt Lake City metropolitan area practically doubled the size of its TRAX light rail network this weekend, adding two extensions a year early and 20% under budget. Though estimates predict relatively modest ridership on the new lines, the routes provide the city and its suburbs one of the most comprehensive transit systems in the country, with frequent bus and rail corridors spread out in a grid across the immediate urban core.

And with two other light rail extensions, a commuter rail line, a streetcar, and a series of bus rapid transit corridors on the way, the region is far from finished.

After passing a local sales tax increase in 2006 for the UTA transit agency’s $2 billion Frontlines 2015 program, millions of dollars flowed in from Washington as

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Salt Lake City Opens First Separated-Lane BRT Corridor, Plans for More

» Mile-long segment of dedicated lanes is just the start of an 80-mile network.

Though it houses a total of only about one million inhabitants, ranking it almost fiftieth in size in the United States, the Salt Lake City metropolitan area is expanding its transit system at full clip with a program rivaled by only the largest cities.

The TRAX light rail system that first opened in 1999 has received most of the interest because it’s been able to attract tens of thousands of more daily riders than initially anticipated. With the help of large federal grants, the UTA transit authority is engaging in a large expansion of that system with the goal of adding four line extensions as well as a new commuter rail line by 2015.

Less frequently mentioned, however, is the bus rapid transit system Salt Lake County is planning to develop over the

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Feds Push Forward Projects in New York and Salt Lake; Bay Area Abandons Dumbarton Rail for Warm Springs

Environmental Statement for Access to the Region’s Core is Approved

The Access to the Region’s Core Tunnel, which will provide a new rail connection between New Jersey and New York, is a step closer to reality after federal authorities approved the $9 billion project’s environmental assessment. The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey and New Jersey, which are planning the project together, hope to receive $3 billion from the federal government in addition to the billions that the Authority and the Garden State have already allocated. The stimulus bill could provide the money to start construction on the project this summer. This would allow for completion in… 2017. The project is expected to create 40,000 to 50,000 jobs over the next eight years.

This is a necessary project for New York and its western suburbs, whose sole commuter rail connection is currently through a two-track 100-year-old tunnel that

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The Site / The Fight

by Yonah Freemark

yfreemark (at) thetransportpolitic (dot) com

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