The College Times applauds the Utah Transit Authority’s recent signing of a letter of intent with Federal Transit Administration to fund five new rail projects.
This is in addition to a U.S. Senate bill that was passed in mid-September that will give $8 million UTA to partially fund construction of a bus rapid transit route between Orem and Provo.
Under the agreement, 20 percent of the cost of five new rail projects will be picked up by the federal government. One of those, a commuter rail line from downtown Salt Lake City to Provo will do much to improve access for the UVSC community to Salt Lake County and vice-versa.
With a station planned right across I-15 from UVSC, students, faculty and staff will be just a hop, skip and a jump away from Salt Lake County.
Not to be confused with TRAX, commuter rail has stations that are spaced further apart and resembles Amtrak trains more than trolley cars.
The bus rapid transit proposal would build dedicated lanes over existing roads for a route between UVSC and BYU, then down to Provo Towne Center. Busses would get prioritized treatment at traffic signals and would cut down the current 30 minute trip between the two major colleges in the area.
The close to $900 million investment for commuter rail is well worth the expense. Utah County cannot rely on cars alone to get people to their work and recreation; just look at the gridlock every day on I-15. It will only get worse, as reconstruction of the interstate is due to begin in several years.
Salt Lake and Utah county residents made a statement when they helped passed a sales-tax hike in 2006 to pay for its expansion.
Complaints that public transit does not pay for itself are valid. But what roads pay for themselves? Those who drive cars do not pay for the cost of road construction themselves, it comes out of tax revenue. Public transit needs to be thought of in the same way in that it is an investment in our quality of life and not used as just a money maker.
By 2015, commuter rail and bus rapid transit should be up and rolling, and we can’t wait for that day to happen.