LEHI, Utah — Many who travel back and forth across the Utah and Salt Lake county lines knows that evening traffic can be a nightmare in what is considered to be one of the worst bottle necks in the state.
“I used to go down and commute to a job in Utah county and I remember riding front runner down there and looking up at the lights every night people bumper to bumper” Carl Arky, Sr. Media Relations Specialist for the Utah Transit Authority says “I was so glad I was on front runner and I knew that I was going to get where I was going much faster than they were.”
Since the Draper State Prison is being relocated, and new housing and businesses are moving in, a UTA route between Draper and Lehi is much needed.
The plan was a 1-billion-dollar extension of TRAX into Utah County from Draper over Point of the Mountain.
With a cost analysis in hand, officials have now rejected the TRAX project in favor of something called Bus Rapid Transit or BRT’s.
UTA estimates a full new TRAX line would cost around TRAX $600 - $850 millon. A Bus rapid transit (BRT) route would only cost about $300 - $450 Millon
“We liken it to TRAX on rubber wheels” Arky says, “They are big long buses they can carry a lot of people… they can move very fast most of the time in their own designated lane.”
The Utah Transit Authority has used them to great success in Utah county around the universities and plans to also use them in Ogden as well.
The key though is getting people to use them.
“People have to have a willingness do to that,” he says, “to get out of their car maybe just one day a week.”
One person who supports the plan is Christopher Stout, Co-Founder of the Utah Transit Riders Union Advocacy group who told us “It has all the benefits of rail and it takes cars off the road.”
Another benefit is the fact they can scale a bus route while a TRAX line is an absolute.
With the prison still operating, a billion-dollar investment doesn’t make sense since there isn’t a demand for more transportation. A bus route can be scaled up to meet demand once it is there.
“Why commit a billion-dollar infrastructure that may or may not be needed so the BRT really makes it flexible… easy to operate… easy to change,” says Stout.
So then the question arises why couldn’t this bus route be used for all new Light rail TRAX lines to which Arky responded “TRAX is still very useful, its brought the Salt Lake Valley closer together,” adding, “We’re finding in certain situations its more cost effective to go with the BRT’s.”