Wednesday, April 25, 2007

UTA Headquarters

As anyone who reads this blog often knows, I throw a lot of criticism toward the UTA and its operations. However, you will also know that if I find something right with UTA I will also point it out.

One area that UTA is being smart is with their headquarters. For those of you that don't know, UTA maintains a modest headquarters building as part of the Meadowbrook garage. In fact driving by the facility you would be hard press to figure out that a major transit system is headquartered there.

The UTA should continue to maintain this modest facility and not be like some of their brethren who have built palaces that only cost the riders in the long run.

A perfect example of this is the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transit Authority (METRO) in Los Angeles. METRO was created by the merging of the former transit system the SCRTD and the Los Angeles County Transportation Commission. This made METRO responsible not only for transit but all transportation (similar to the stupidity proposed by one of our state legislators earlier in the year).

The RTD was headquartered in the skid row section of Los Angeles and this was just not good enough for METRO. So they decided to build a headquarters behind Union Station but still in downtown Los Angeles. Now as you come westbound on the Hollywood Freeway you see it just before passing Union Station.

This facility is often referred to as the Taj Mahal by transit advocates and opponents alike. The 27 story building and transit center ended up costing an astronomical $500 million dollars. That's right, half a billion dollars (in other words the cost of TWO of the TRAX extensions.

Now thanks to a consent degree that took all the reserves, METRO is faced with a budget meltdown. How much better would METRO be if they had not built the Taj Mahal? Probably a lot better off than they are now.

If UTA every gets the bright idea to build a glorious new facility, it needs to be stopped before Salt Lake City ends up with its own Taj Mahal.

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