Salt Lake City public transit ranked high

Recent data was collected in the Salt Lake City region to determine the best transit system, based on convenience, to get a resident from home to the workplace in 90 minutes or less. According to Brookings Institution Metropolitan Policy Program, Salt Lake City is the top-rated area for ease of commute for labor workers. Homeowners looking for real estate in Salt Lake City can leave their cars behind and easily access work.

For the entire metro area, SLC received an 80.2 percent in coverage and the new program SmartTrips will likely increase that number. The community-based project encourages individuals to follow in the footsteps of others who are choosing to jump on a bus instead of in the car, which will help clean the air, boost the economy and ease traffic congestion.

Officials are using a grassroots method - word of mouth - to spread the word about the transit, rather than using mass advertisement said City Councilman Carlton Christensen. As of right now, the program is only offered in East Liberty Park, Rose Park and Wasatch Hollow neighborhoods, but the transit options will likely soon be expanded throughout the city.

The program is based off of other successful transit systems in the United States like Portland, which decreased single-occupancy car trips by 18 percent and increased eco-friendly trips by 30 percent last year.

In the East Liberty Park neighborhood, residents recently received information regarding new environmentally sound ways to get around. Of the 800 households that got the SmartTrip letters, 15 percent responded with requests for bike routes, bus passes, personalized public transit routes and information on walking. Using East Liberty Park as a sample, the city’s plan to take it one neighborhood at a time has already shown signs of a positive future.

Salt Lake City also just improved its train system by extending tracks to add two new lines: West Valley City and Mid-Jordan TRAX. As more jobs are popping up in the suburbs of Salt Lake City, officials agreed to add transit lines to connect more people to where they need to be going. The system is now based on a grid, to make it possible to add new lines and connect east-west and north-south routes.

"Not only did those extensions help, but so did our redesign of the bus system at the same time," said Utah Transit Authority General Manager Michael Allegra. "We used the new rail lines to modify our whole system using a market approach, looking at what was working and what wasn’t."