The Rio Grande depot would make a wonderful transit center, combining light rail, commuter rail, Amtrak, buses, taxis and even bicycles — if it could be made to work.

By "made to work," we mean that it must be configured so that all the transit options are in one place. Commuters should waste little time in transferring from one to another. In many successful transit hubs nationwide, commuters can leave a commuter train and simply cross over a platform to enter a light rail train.

One more thing: This ideal configuration must be made to work in a way that does not cost taxpayers much more and does not jeopardize federal funds already earmarked for construction of a transit hub at 340 S. 600 West.

Mayor Rocky Anderson is exploring ways to make this work. We wish him well. The city, however, has been down this path once before.

Here is a quick history lesson: Several years ago, former Mayor Deedee Corradini conceived the idea of a transit hub at the same time that she decided to find a way to open the west side of downtown — an area blighted by warehouses and rail yards — to new development. What followed was a tricky bit of negotiating among the city, the Utah Department of Transportation, Union Pacific and Amtrak. In the end, UDOT agreed to shorten the freeway ramps entering the city if Union Pacific would agree to remove 22 miles of track from the area and if Amtrak would agree to move its station to a more suitable spot, which it identified as 600 West and 200 South.

The shorter freeway ramps made the vast west side of downtown accessible to automobiles. The removal of the track, however, made it virtually impossible to bring commuter rail to either the Union Pacific or Rio Grande terminals, both of which are historic and architectural jewels. The choice was between shorter freeway ramps or rails, unless the city wanted to pay to put tracks underground or in a trench.

What followed was a bitter debate among city council members. After several weeks of intense study, however, the council voted 6-1 to build the new hub.

Among Anderson's proposals is to install a people mover that would connect the new transit hub with the Rio Grande terminal. It's a good idea to provide a connection to such a historic transportation center, but not if commuters would be required to use a people mover to get from a commuter train to light rail. That would be too much of an inconvenience. Despite the significance of the site, most people simply want to get to work as quickly as possible.

If Anderson can find a way to make the Rio Grande a more valuable part of the landscape without disrupting all the work that led up to the current situation, he deserves support.