Care about air quality? homelessness? housing affordability? Each have a mobility component. As do domestic violence, youth suicide, and the health of Main Street retail. Mobility independence plays a roll in nearly every issue we care about.
As Chair of the Utah Transit Riders Union (UTRU), I pushed for transit 24/7/365 and a robust high frequency bus network. Both, I believe, are inevitable, but strong leadership means asking what we prioritize as we work towards our end goal. For me, that’s West Side parity, the roll-out of HivePass 3.0, targeted youth programs, night and holiday service, a full bike network, pedestrian* amenities, and regional rail.
West Side Parity
Healing our city requires that we make affirmative investments in the West Side. And investments in mobility independence pay enormous dividends, driving economic development at a human scale. This means ensuring that West Side transit, bike, and pedestrian services keep pace with those offered elsewhere in the city.
I was literally the first person to have a HivePass and I use mine daily. HivePass 1.0 had a single monthly pass price that covered UTA’s entire network, including FrontRunner. HivePass 2.0 replaced FrontRunner premium coverage with a discounted FrontRunner fare for HivePass holders. It’s time to roll out HivePass 3.0 and allow HivePass users to add FrontRunner premium coverage for a modest monthly price. In addition to rolling-out the FrontRunner upgrade, we need to expand HivePass adoption among marginalized communities—which will require making HivePass easier to get.
Targeted Youth Programs
Want more adult riders? Increase youth ridership. Let’s work with UTA to provide a low- or no-cost youth HivePass, coupled with a kids-ride-free program.
The percentage of our kids who arrive at school under their own power is a metric for how healthy our neighborhoods are.
We also need to work towards a majority of kids getting to school on their own. By pursuing our goal of getting more kids walking, riding, or taking transit to school, we will necessarily tackle a whole lot of other community concerns along the way. Put another way: the percentage of our kids who arrive at school under their own power is a metric for how healthy our neighborhoods are.
Night & Holiday Transit
Our transit system will have turned a corner when we can all rely on it to get us from here to there. Getting off work five minutes late can’t mean a 2- or 3-hour walk home… or a holiday for everyone else can’t mean some of us are stuck at home.
Speaking of … One last point on transit: FrontRunner is the backbone of our regional transit system. It’s astonishing that UTA’s backbone service isn’t operational 24/7/365.
Full Bike Network
We need to rededicate ourselves to a robust, tiered bike network that connects every neighborhood and stitches our city together. That means more lanes—especially protected bike lanes—everywhere and better, more pervasive bike amenities (fix-it stations, way-finding for cyclists, cyclist rest bars at intersections, et cetera).
If walking (or rolling, for those of us in wheelchairs) isn’t safe, direct (this is so important!), and pleasant—for all ages and abilities, citywide—then we’ve failed.
We need to prioritize sidewalk maintenance, shade our sidewalks with a citywide urban forest, make intersections safer for pedestrians of all abilities and mid-block crosswalks ubiquitous. We need to offer places for folks to rest when they’re tired, when their groceries are heavy, or when the conversation with a friend is too good to rush—and a fast way to get halfway there is to have modern covered bus stops with comfortable seating (not to mention juice for our phones and wifi hotspots).
Connecting Salt Lake City to the rest of the state via rail is within our reach. By bringing State-sponsored Amtrak service to Utah, it’s possible to get statewide rail service for a fraction of the cost—and a fraction of the time. Being a champion for regional rail pays big dividends for Salt Lake City and communities up and down the state. And healthier communities statewide translates into a healthier Salt Lake City.
World class neighborhoods don’t leave folks behind.
Mobility independence is a human right. It helps our kids get to school, our seniors age in place, our working poor pay the bills, our businesses reach customers, and our neighborhoods remain… well… neighborly.
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Let me be clear: when I speak of pedestrians, that’s everyone who uses a sidewalk—those who walk unassisted, ride along in their prams, need walkers, or use wheelchairs. I wish I had a better word… If you know of one, please let me know.
Help me share this vision with others.