The airport train that a lot of people won’t be able to use

When Salt Lake City was chosen to host the 2002 Winter Olympics, one of the exciting aspects was the upgrade to Utah’s transportation system. There were new highways and a light rail system called TRAX. Since the Olympics, lots of money has been poured into the extension of TRAX and the creation of a commuter train known as Frontrunner along with massive improvements to the highway.

The culmination of this is the completion of the long awaited $350 million Salt Lake City Airport TRAX line that will finally allow a way to reach the airport. I was excited to finally have a way to ride the train to and from the Salt Lake City airport though currently, it’s not that difficult to get to the Salt Lake City airport. You can go via I-215 or via I-80 to get there. There is plenty of economical long term parking available for around $8 a day.

As it it turns out that it’s not going to be such a great addition after all. The airport line’s schedule won’t allow for passengers with very early flights to make it nor passengers that have late night flights. The weekend schedule will be sparse as well.

The whole purpose of an airport train is to add a good option for people to get to and from the airport at convenient times. Some of the airport trains I’ve taken is MARTA in Atlanta, BART in San Francisco, Arlanda Express in Stockholm, Flytoget in Olso, Copenhagen’s Lufthavne, and KLIA Express in Kuala Lumpur. I’m disappointed by the decision by Utah Transit Authority to not have extended hours on their train.

This comes also on the heels of another fare increase which makes Salt Lake’s light rail one of the most expensive in the United States.

Here’s hoping that the Utah Transit Authority changes their mind on the schedule to allow for more people to use a very expensive addition to get to the airport.

Comments

  1. I hear your concern, but in all fairness, I am not sure I would want to be on TRAX after 11 pm or before 5 am. It is sufficiently scary during the daytime hours.

  2. On a daily basis there are about 30 flights which cannot be served. That’s out of more than 600 average daily flights. Yeah, it sucks for those at the extremes of the schedule, but systems with very convenient train service to the airports don’t run 24×7. Seems quite a stretch to me to call this one a situation where lots of people won’t get to use it.

  3. Such is the plight of public transit in much of America. They raise fares to cover more of the cost but it ends up driving down ridership so brings in no more revenue. Then they cut service to save money but that further depressed ridership.

    Having worked for public transit agencies in DC, I firmly believe for public transit to work you need local and state government with a commitment to substantial tax payer subsidy. Look at places with effective public transit both in America and worldwide, you find this commitment to subsidize with tax payer money. In Utah, I doubt the state is committed to making public transit work in the long run. Also, the lack of population density has always been an impediment to public transit in the West.

  4. Or SLC could do what SFO and STL do. Surcharge trips to/from the airport. BART fares to/from SFO are a few dollars higher. Metro Link fares from STL are higher than fares to STL unless you buy a ticket in advance. Locals can buy advance tickets, visitors to the city cannot.

  5. whenever i am in downtown slc and see the train go by hardly anybody on it…….another waste of taxpayer $$$$$$$$…………

  6. Long term airport parking at SLC is $9/day.

    It does not surprise me that the airport train schedule is pretty much in line with the rest of the UTA schedule. They are very inflexible with hours and also as far as increasing frequency at rush hours.

    Another downer is that travel time downtown – airport is approx 20 minutes, which again is in line with the UTA systemwide slowness.

  7. As regards to Bens posting. People are always complaining that they see transit go by empty. The reason for that is that most people only notice transit during the daytime office hours or after the work day is over. Transit carries most of its people during the rush hours when they are going to and from work. However, they need to provide service throughout the day because some people need to get to places at other times than from 7-9 am or 3-6pm. And people won’t ride transit if they feel like they’re going to be trapped someplace without a ride if an emergency comes up. Think of how likely you’d be to ride if you knew that once you got to your office or job you’d be stuck there until the end of the day with no way home or to pick up a sick kid etc. If you were watching transit at 7am you’d probably see a lot more full trains and busses. But by 10am most people are at work so the vehicles are a lot emptier.

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