Salt Lake Tribune Letter To The Editor On Roads And Transit

This is the most important issue of the coming year in Utah. Thanks to the Tribune for publishing my letter today.

I have a question for Paul Mero, who wrote in the Dec. 3 Tribune that only roads, not rail, can relieve traffic congestion.

UTA and UDOT data show morning commute hour TRAX train riders would fill two additional lanes on I-15. Just where does he think the riders in packed morning TRAX cars would go without it?

Brian Watkins
Salt Lake City

Our state legislature will be trying to force us to use Salt Lake transit tax money to find new highways inside and outside Salt Lake County. The people and the County Council will be working to fund at least three new TRAX lines.

With Greg Curtis back in the Speaker’s chair, prospects are dicey.

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2 Responses to Salt Lake Tribune Letter To The Editor On Roads And Transit

  1. brian says:

    Excellent questions, M. The Trib prefers to publish short letters and is even more likely to print very short letters. If I can refute Mero in 50 words then I’ll limit myself to 50 words. I don’t have one thousand words like Mero gets to carry on against sensible policy.

    There will certainly be more opportunities to discuss transportation policy here on Brian’s Utah Weblog this month and possibly throughout the year if the Executive Appropriations committee tries to block the county from building essential facilities.

  2. M says:

    Your rebuttal to Mero only answers part of the question. Other important questions need to be asked and answered

    – How much congestion is being relieved by light rail? This would exclude passengers who would be otherwise be taking the bus or would be on non-congested roads. You can’t assume that EVERYONE on TRAX would be on I-15.

    – How much does this cost, including capital, debt service, interest, and operating costs?

    – MOST IMPORTANT: How do the benefits in the first question and the costs in the second question compare to alternatives, including roads, bus rapid transit, congestion pricing?

    – Does Draper really need a light rail stop AND a commuter rail stop? Is this really the best use of our tax dollars?

    – Can we justify building a $290 million (plus interest and operations) line to the airport when there is no congestion around the airport and when airport employees commute during off-peak hours (5 to 6 am and 1 to 2 pm) which means they are not creating congestion elsewhere? What percent of rush hour traffic on I-15 is heading to the airport?

    – Are you aware that UTA’s ridership numbers include some double counting? That is, when one passenger gets on the north-south line and then switches to the univesity line, UTA counts that passenger as TWO passengers (you can fill up a lot of I-15 lanes with that kind of math)

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