Monday, June 09, 2008

University of Utah embraces TOD

University of UtahImage via WikipediaArticle in the Trib today about plans of the University of Utah to turn itself into a more pedestrian friendly campus. Plans include replacing much of the surface parking with parking garages and concentrating development along the TRAX lines.

The University should be applauded for its efforts over the years to encourage its students to take TRAX and the bus. While Universities much like airports gain revenue from parking which many times will cloud their judgment when it comes to promoting transit service, it is clear that the U of U has seen that transit plays an important role in moving its students.

The boldest part of the plan is to replace the parking lot between the Stadium TRAX station and the Stadium itself with a huge mixed used complex that will include residential, office, retail, restaurants and entertainment. Not only will this benefit students at the U, it will also help those of use who transfer from TRAX to buses at that location. I often transfer from TRAX to the 213 or 220 and it will be nice to be able to do something while waiting for the bus or TRAX. You add the streetcar from my earlier proposal and you have a major entertainment destination. I hope that the University will encourage locally owned businesses to be a major part of this complex and doesn't give into chain phobia.

Another outstanding part of the plan is to replace temporary buildings near the Fort Douglas TRAX stop and replace them with new housing. This will put students directly on the TRAX line and allow them easy access to downtown shopping and entertainment and further reduce the need for the automobile.

By the way lets put some basic economics here. These developments will encourage transit use, not only TRAX but also the bus. It will encourage more people to ride them thus creating more revenue, revenue that then could be used to improve the bus system. As I have stated, the present problem is not the management at UTA, it is the fact that it is hard to take the bus in the Salt Lake Valley and once again not because of the route structure but because our streets, sidewalks and developments do not encourage transit use. Heck, as I have stated a million times, here we are in the 21st Century and when it is dark you need a flash light to flag down a bus do to the lack of streetlights. We have problems in Salt Lake, but the problems isn't were some misguided people think they are.
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