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UTA: Transit success or failure

Are TRAX, FrontRunner failures? Readers respond

By Jesse Fruhwirth
Posted // June 21,2010 -

A letter to the editor raised a perennial complaint that Utah Transit Authority's most high-profile services, light-rail TRAX and commuter rail FrontRunner, are failures (see “The Heavy Cost of Light Rail,” June 15,

Letter writer Drew Chamberlain lists three reason that UTA should be “shut down.” TRAX and FrontRunner, he wrote, are too expensive to maintain and attract too few riders. Thirdly, UTA bosses make too much money. Commenter Douglas Cotant seconded the motion.

“UTA is wasting money on salaries for their exec's and wasting money on FrontRunner, plus charging high prices,” Cotant wrote.

Commenter Joe Traxrider, however, asks whether roads are any cheaper.

“What is the cost per rider of the vehicles we own, asphalt we lay, concrete we pour, and potholes we fill?” Traxrider wrote. “As you might say, 'shut it down.'”

Commenter DS said drivers need to transition away from personal vehicles.

“Once the transit system is complete, we should raise fuel tax to $5 [per gallon],” DS wrote. “This will stop the ridiculous, unnecessary expansion into distant suburbs. It will stop our dependency on oil. It will clear our air which at times is the worst in the nation.”

DS’s tax plan might work—but would motorists elect DS to implement it? Doubtful.

Jesse Fruhwirth:

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Posted // August 1,2013 at 10:16

The reason Trax and FrontRunner are failures is because UTA execs are small thinkers who failed to properly consider existing train systems in other parts of the world.   Instead of implementing a real train system, UTA created a bus system on rails.


Posted // July 5,2010 at 13:57

TRAX is the worst idea ever, gas is never going to run out...ever...its an endless resource...why come up with any alternatives... so stupid... and yeah people who engineer such simple things as this should make what I get paid...


Posted // June 21,2010 at 19:57

More information on FrontRunner;

Recipe for Waste

Just another example of Government Waste, one that we can stop!



FrontRunner Facts we know:


700 million dollar build cost.

15 million dollar per year for maintenance X 30 year average life ($450 million).

FrontRunner operates 313 days per year, 26 per month.

Ridership is 90,000 boardings per month, 3,462 per day, 1,731 round trips (customers) per day.

FrontRunner makes 72 one-way trips per day.

FrontRunner burns 1,600,000 gallons of fuel per year, 133,333 per month, 5,128 per day, 71 gallons of fuel per one-way trip.

Traffic on I-15 INCREASED after FrontRunner opened (UDOT traffic statistics).



Do the math:


Cost per customer per month;

700 million plus 450 million = 1.15 billion. Divide by 30 year average life of system = 38,333,333 million per year divide by 12 months = 3,194,444 million divide by 26 days = 122,863 per day. Now divide that by 1,731 customers = $70.98 per day X 26 days = $1,845.43 per month. A monthly pass costs $160. Tax subsidy is $1,685.43 per month per customer.


Average Ridership per one-way trip;

90,000 boardings divided by 26 days = 3,461.54 boardings per day, divided by 72 trips per day = 48.08 passengers per one-way trip. FrontRunner is designed to carry 400 people.


Fuel consumption per passenger per one-way trip;

1,600,000 gallons of fuel per year divided by 12 months = 133,333.33 gallons of fuel per month divided by 26 days = 5,128.21 gallons of fuel per day divided by 72 trips = 71.23 gallons per one-way trip. Now divide that by 48.08 passengers and we burn 1.48 gallons of fuel per passenger per one-way trip.


FrontRunner costs the taxpayers $1,685.43 per month per customer.

FrontRunner averages only 48.08 passengers per one-way trip.

FrontRunner burns 1.48 gallons of fuel per passenger per one-way trip.

Traffic on I-15 INCREASED after FrontRunner opened (UDOT traffic statistics).




For more information call Drew Chamberlain at 801-913-4611



Posted // June 21,2010 at 17:14

What really got me was assertion that Trax killed a couple people per year. Hello???!! How many people die in cars?!?!?!? Hell but that reckoning the horseless carriage should have been banned before 1913. Non-arguement.


Posted // June 21,2010 at 14:28

I would ride frontrunner if it wasn't so expensive. They should offer lower monthly passes for the average person (not in school or elderly). I know a whole bunch of people that would as well... it's cheaper to car pool.


Posted // June 28,2010 at 09:51 - Does DS realize, if gas is raised to $5.00 per gallon, then trax, frontrunner and bus fares will be raised also? It is a neverending circle. i do agree that the execs are receiving far to much money at the tax payer and UTA riders' expense.


Posted // June 21,2010 at 19:56 - What? FrontRunner costs $1800 per month per Customer, and you only pay $160. That is the deal of the century! When I drive a car the $.48 per gallon tax pays 110% of my way, and I paid for the vehicle. I want transit riders to pay their way, that is only fair.