To the editor:
After being out of touch for several months, I have been surprised to see that the people of Salt Lake Valley are blatantly being "railroaded" into believing that a fixed light-rail transit line along the old U.P. railroad right-of-way is the "magic" solution to the very complex problem of providing effective and efficient surface transportation in the valley.In some areas a light rail transit can be and is a vital effective part of the overall system. The BART system in the San Francisco area is often cited as a success. It is partly. BART was expected to carry 600,000 passengers per day and was designed on that basis.
The average has only been about 200,000 a day, except for a short time when the earthquake broke the bay bridge down. It increased to about 300,000 but then dropped back to 200,000 when repairs were made. The cost of the system was six times the original estimate, rather characteristic of most of the LRT systems built in recent years.
The UTA states the costs presented in their report and the projected ridership were made with the realization that estimates of cost in the past were too low and ridership estimates too high and that their estimates were factual and conservative.
From my cursory review, I doubt this. They were made with restrictive analysis and defective assumptions, which did not consider the entire system in the valley, and the dire threats of gridlock in three or four years, without the LRT, are nonsensical, misleading scare tactics.
The LRT will not solve problems. Analysis shows it will not reduce auto travel and will not reduce air pollution. In fact, LRT will increase it as it will interfere with free flow on existing roads.
In my opinion the report of the Transportation Task Force should be revised and the entire valley surface transportation system re-evaluated objectively and factually without the undue influence from special interests, who would hope to benefit from LRT.
The immediate focus should be on improving the access to and exits from the interstate and then eliminating the bottlenecks in the present north-south and east-west roads. The UTA bus system should be effectively rerouted and rescheduled to increase ridership and provide the needed public transportation.
Then with responsible, innovative traffic engineering the collection and express routes tying the interstate with the rest of the system should be provided.
Ellis L. Armstrong
Salt Lake City