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Airport TRAX line a boon for travelers, adds transportation options to city's west side

SALT LAKE CITY — Flying into Salt Lake City, Cheryl Steffins and her husband spent $20 on cab fare to travel to their downtown hotel.

On Sunday, the Tulsa, Okla., couple, on their first visit to the city, were also among the inaugural customers on the Utah Transit Authority's new light-rail line to the Salt Lake City International Airport.

"Even the shuttle would have been $18 for the two of us. This is a pretty good deal," Steffins said of the TRAX fare, $5 for the two of them.

Charles Johnson of Austin, Texas, who was also waiting for the airport TRAX train at the stop outside Energy Solutions Arena, said he travels to Salt Lake on business twice a year.

"I always take taxis, but I thought I'd just try it. I heard it takes 18 minutes. I'll get on and see how it goes," Johnson said.

While many on the train were headed to the airport Sunday, the first official day of business for the new line, Rosalind Shorty took a ride simply to satisfy her curiosity.

"I wanted to experience the new TRAX line. Riding on the green line for the first time, it's exciting," Shorty said.

She predicted the line would be "packed" during the 2013 Utah State Fair. Shorty, who uses a motorized wheelchair, said the elevator at the North Temple bridge would give her easy access to FrontRunner lines to Ogden and Provo.

"If you want to get out of the city, this is a good way to do it," she said.

Business was brisk early Sunday morning and moderate later in the day. Several people on the train said they had learned about the new service by word of mouth during their visits to the city.

Salt Lake County Councilman Arlyn Bradshaw was among the first passengers to take TRAX into the city Sunday morning.

Bradshaw, who caught a flight from California "very early Sunday morning" said the new TRAX line was handy for travel given that he he lives a short distance from one of the downtown stops.

"I'm a big supporter of public transportation. If I can use the trains to get around, that's the best way to do that. It saves a car trip," he said.

Not only is the airport line a boon for air travelers, "how great is this for the west side of Salt Lake City in terms of connectivity?" Bradshaw said.

"It's a convenient way to get to the airport, but it also adds transportation options for the west side of Salt Lake City," he said.