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S Line (UTA)

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S Line (UTA)


The S Line, or S-Line (formerly known as Sugar House Streetcar), is a public transit streetcar line in northeastern Salt Lake County, Utah, in the United States, that connects the business district of the Sugar House neighborhood of Salt Lake City with the neighboring city of South Salt Lake, as well as the Utah Transit Authority's (UTA) TRAX light rail system.[1] It is a joint project between UTA, Salt Lake City, and South Salt Lake.[2][3] It opened for service on December 8, 2013.[4] It is operated by UTA and is UTA's first streetcar line.[3]

Name

Since the project began in 2006 it was referred to as the Sugar House Streetcar. However in late August 2013, at the same time testing was about to begin, UTA announced that the streetcar would be called the S Line.[5] [Note 1] According to UTA, "The S Line was named in honor of the streetcar’s two founding cities, Salt Lake and South Salt Lake, as well as the Sugar House neighborhood it calls home."[8] Salt Lake City Mayor Ralph Becker stated, “The name both unites the communities, but also the corridor."[3]

Description

While fairly similar to UTA's TRAX light rail[Note 2] the S Line operates at a substantially slower speed, with a top speed of 25 miles per hour (40 km/h).[9] The S Line also differs from TRAX in that, for the most part, it only has a single track (with passing tracks) and it operates with more frequent stops.[10] Other differences are that the S Line operates with a single car, rather than a "train" of cars and the at-grade road crossings do not have barrier arms that stop vehicular traffic. Instead most streetcar crossings have just traffic lights, while several are controlled simply by stop signs. Accordingly, the streetcars may be required to slow down or even stop prior to crossing roadways. (These road crossing also include crosswalks that parallel the tracks, and pedestrian traffic lights as well.) The fare for the S Line is the same as for TRAX[11] and the same methods of payment (including the FAREPAY card) are accepted.[6]

Initially, the S Line will utilize the same Siemens S70 cars used by the TRAX Red and Green lines (as well as the ones used by the Blue Line on weekends). The decision to use the same car model (at least in the beginning) will result in substantial savings as it allows UTA to use the same maintenance facilities used for TRAX.[8] However, Mayor Becker suggested that as the S Line evolves (Phase 2 and beyond) the cars used could move "toward a more traditional streetcar design."[12] The cars used for the S Line have a silver and white color scheme,[8] as opposed the red, white, and blue color scheme used by the rest of UTA's vehicles (buses, TRAX trains, and the FrontRunner train). Since the S Line is intended for shorter trips than TRAX (which is more for commuting) it will have more standing room and space for bicycles.[12] Each car has a capacity of 60 people[6] and, although daily ridership was anticipated to be initially about 3,000,[5] actual initial ridership has been closer to 780.[13] City leaders have asserted that the lower than projected ridership is mostly a result of delayed development in the area and that once the projects are completed, ridership will be closer to projected levels. They also anticipate that improved weather will also result in increased ridership.[13]

Most of the corridor for Phase 1 of the S Line includes a linear park.[8] It also parallels a portion of Parley's Trail (which connects the Jordan River Parkway with the Bonneville Shoreline Trail and Parley's Canyon).[3] It was anticipated that the parkway would be open to the public by the time the S Line opened for service in December 2013,[3] however, on opening day (and even a few months later) there were still several sections closed and substantial work still in progress.

All of UTA's TRAX and FrontRunner trains and stations, streetcars and streetcar stops, and all fixed-route buses are compliant with Americans with Disabilities Act and are therefore accessible to those with disabilities.[14] Signage at the stations, on the passenger platforms, and on the trains and streetcars clearly indicate accessibility options. In accordance with the Utah Clean Air Act and UTA ordinance, "smoking is prohibited on UTA vehicles as well as UTA bus stops, TRAX stations, and FrontRunner stations".[15]

History

The rail line right-of-way used for the first operational section (Phase 1) of the S Line was originally built in 1900 by the Denver and Rio Grande Western Railroad (D&RGW) as the Sugar House Branch. Southern Pacific purchased the D&RGW properties, which in turn folded into the Union Pacific Railroad (UP). UTA purchased the right-of-way and the rail line in 2002[16] and UP officially abandoned the rail line in 2005.[17]

Federal funding for the project was applied for in 2009. Of the estimated $55 million project cost,[18] Salt Lake City provided $2.5 million in funding and applied for $35 million in federal Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) funding. The project was granted $26 million TIGER II funding on October 20, 2010. At that time, one source reported that the line was projected to open at the end of 2012 or in early 2013,[19] while another gave a more conservative estimate, stating that the line could "possibly be operational within three years [late 2013]."[20] Actual construction began on May 9, 2012,[21] and the line opened for regular service on December 8, 2013, but free rides were offered the day prior (with a food donation).[4]

Phase 1 of the S Line runs along the old D&RGW line (which lies between 2100 South and I-80) from the Central Pointe TRAX Station in South Salt Lake to the commercial district of the Sugar House neighborhood of Salt Lake City near Highland Drive (specifically the site of the old Granite Furniture Building or "Granite Block").[20][22] The streetcar plan was developed from an earlier proposal for a heritage trolley line which was begun in 2002. The original idea was reported in the Deseret News on May 16, 2003. However, at that time rail service was not projected to reach Sugar House before the year 2030.[23]

Since most of Phase 1 was built within the existing railway right-of-way, very minimal additional property acquisition was necessary. The integration of the S Line at Central Pointe Station required the addition of a second passenger platform (a side platform) to be built just southeast of the existing island platform for the TRAX lines. Transfer between the two modes of transportation only requires a very short walk between the two platforms, but the S Line platform is only accessible from the southern end of the TRAX platform.

Although years in development, the S Line is the first streetcar line to operate in the state of Utah in over 50 years.[8] The initial length of the S Line (Phase 1) will be about 2 miles (3.2 km).[3][24]

Future plans

Even before Phase 1 was complete, the Alternatives Analysis (AA) Study was initiated for Phase 2. As part of Phase 2, the S Line will extend beyond the Fairmont stop.[25] There were six different alignments considered,[26] however the route for the further extension has been nearly finalized. The Phase 2 extension has the S Line continuing east from the Fairmont stop to Highland Drive, then heading north (as Highland Drive becomes 1100 East) and ending immediately south of 1700 South.[27] This route will provide service to Westminster College. Although there was substantial opposition to this recommended route for Phase 2,[28] the objections were not focused on the initial section of Phase 2 along Highland Drive, but rather the section further north. Many are opposed the route continuing north along 1100 East and would rather see the streetcar continue east along 2100 South.[29] Notwithstanding, city leaders have repeatedly indicated that many of the objections arise because of a lack of understanding regarding the differences between the S Line (streetcar) and TRAX (light rail).[30] There still remains the possibility of further extensions beyond Phase 2, but none have yet to be specifically identified for official discussion.

Route

The S Line is designated as UTA Route 720.

The route for Phase 1 has streetcars starting at both termini at the same time and then passing each other midway at the 500 East stop.

South Salt Lake

The S Line begins at the Central Pointe Station, the streetcar portion of which is located at 193 West Utopia Avenue in the city of South Salt Lake, just south of (SR-201). (Central Pointe is also the southern most station served by all three TRAX lines: Blue, Red, and Green). From this station the S Line heads south along the east side of the TRAX right-of-way until it turns east along the former D&RGW right-of-way at about 2230 South.[6] (While the S Line heads east along this right-of-way, the TRAX Green Line heads west along the same right-of-way towards West Valley City). With industrial buildings on both sides of the track, the streetcar continues east, crossing West Temple and Main Street. From the east side of Main Street, it runs down the median of a new east-west street (called Central Pointe Place) until it reaches the South Salt Lake City stop at 2240 South Main Street. After that stop it continues east in the median until it reaches the east end of Central Pointe Place and then crosses State Street (US-89).[Note 3] East of State Street the route begins a stretch with residential housing on the north side of the tracks instead of industrial buildings. After crossing 200 East and then 300 East it immediately arrives at the 300 East stop at 2240 South 300 East. With industrial buildings once again to the north, the streetcar continues east, crossing South 400 East (the first of only three road, other than the two alleyway, crossings were vehicle traffic is only controlled by stop signs rather than traffic lights). Past 400 East the single set of tracks diverges to two (passing track) and the S Line arrives at the 500 East stop at 2234 South 500 East.

Sugar House (Salt Lake City)

After crossing 500 East, the streetcar leaves South Salt Lake and enters the Sugar House neighborhood of Salt Lake City. The two S Line tracks then merge back to a single set. Continuing east, but now slightly to the north, it crosses 600 East and arrives at the 700 East stop at 2210 South 700 East. From that stop the tracks continue due east once again (at about 2210 South) and cross 700 East (SR-71). East of 700 East the route briefly follows along a former roadway (Sequoia Ruby Court), including an alleyway crossing, before reaching Lake Street (740 East). After crossing Lake Street the streetcar continues east, with another alleyway crossing, and crosses 800 East. Lake Street and 800 East are the other two of the three road crossings where vehicular traffic is only controlled by stop signs rather than traffic lights. Continuing further east it crosses 900 East. Immediately east of 900 East the S Line arrives at the Sugarmont stop[Note 4] at 2215 South 900 East. The streetcar also begins a stretch which runs east along the north side of Sugarmont Drive. At about 1010 east the tracks diverge once again before reaching the Fairmont stop,[Note 5] which is located immediately west of the south end of McClelland Street (1040 East) at 2216 S McClelland Street. The Fairmont stop is also located just north of Fairmont Park and southwest of the Granit Block. Fairmont stop is the last eastbound stop for Phase 1 of the S Line.

From McClelland Street, Sugarmont Drive continues due east to Highland Drive at 1130 East and 2225 South (being one-way, westbound only, between 1100 East and Highland Drive). There is a proposal to realign this section of Sugarmont Drive to curve to the north to connect with Highland Drive at the west end of Wilmington Avenue (about 2190 South).[31] Whether Sugarmont Drive is realigned or not, as part of Phase 2, the S Line will continue east along that street until the streetcar turns north along Highland Drive. Heading north, but slightly to the west, the S Line will run through the commercial district along Highland Drive until it reaches 2100 South. (At about 2150 South, Highland Drive curves from its north-northwest direction to head almost due north.) At East 2100 South, Highland Drive becomes South 1100 East. Heading north along 1100 East, the streetcar will pass by the ends of the following streets: the east end of Hollywood Drive (1970 South), the west end of a section of Ramona Avenue (1930 South), the east end of a section of Ramona Avenue (1910 South), the west end of a section of Westminster Avenue (1880 South), and the west end of East Garfield Avenue (1835 South). North of Ramona Avenue the streetcar leaves the commercial district and 1100 East has intermittent residential housing on both sides of the street. Continuing north along South 1100 East, the S Line will cross Blaine Avenue (1735 South) before reaching the northern border of the Sugar House neighborhood and the end of Phase 2 immediately south of 1700 South. Phase 2 will provide indirect service to Westminster College, the campus of which is just east of the end of this route. (The campus of Westminster College occupies the entire area between 1200 East and 1300 East from 1700 South to 1850 South.)

Streetcar schedule

On weekdays and Saturdays the first eastbound S Line streetcar (to the Fairmont stop) leaves Central Pointe Station at 6:00 am and the first westbound car (to the Central Pointe Station) leaves Fairmont stop at 6:20 am. The last eastbound streetcar leaves Central Pointe Station at 9:00 pm and the last westbound car leaves Fairmont stop at 9:20 pm.[Note 6]

On Sundays the first eastbound S Line streetcar leaves the Central Pointe Station at 9:20 am and the first westbound car leaves the Fairmont stop at 9:40 am. The last eastbound streetcar leaves the Central Pointe Station at 7:20 pm and the last westbound car leaves the Fairmont stop at 7:40 pm.

The westbound passenger side platform at the 500 East stop

S Line streetcars run every twenty minutes every day (except holidays when there is no service) and take about twelve minutes to run the length of the route (of Phase 1).[32]

Stops

UTA has reaffirmed that just as the streetcar is not a "train" the S Line has "stops", instead of "stations" (with the exception of the Central Pointe [TRAX] station).[5] Notwithstanding, stops are still announced within the streetcars as "the next station is. . . ." All stops[5][22][33] on Phase 1 (except Central Pointe) are at approximately 2220 South.[5] Each passenger platform includes a small canopy (not much larger than a standard small bus stop shelter), a payphone, a ticket vending machine and an electronic card reader (used for charging or recording fares with UTA contactless transit passes or a contactless credit/debit cards by "tapping on" or "tapping off"[34]).[Note 7] Each platform is only 59 feet (18 m) long, just long enough to fit a single Siemens S70 car.[4] All of the stops (including the Central Pointe Station) are operated by UTA.


S Line (South Salt Lake–Sugar House (neighborhood of Salt Lake City)
Stop name Municipality Opening
year
UTA connections Park and
Ride lot
Free
Fare
Zone
Notes
Bus (local)
[Note 8]
TRAX
(light rail)
Western end of line
Central Pointe South Salt Lake 2013 9, 17, 21  701  TRAX Blue Line
 703  TRAX Red Line
 704  TRAX Green Line
57 No S Line passenger platform is southeast of
(and is only accessible from) the TRAX platform
South Salt Lake City
(Main Street)
200* No
300 East
500 East 205*
700 East Salt Lake City
Sugarmont
[Note 4]
209*
Fairmont
[Note 5]
213*
Eastern end of the line
*Except for Central Pointe Station, none of the stops have any direct bus connections at the stop itself, but several have bus stops on nearby streets.

See also

Notes

  1. ^ Some sources indicate that the name S Line is short for "Silver Line",[6] however UTA has consistently uses the name S Line and never "Silver Line". Notwithstanding, UTA does use the color silver to represent the S Line on its rail system maps.[7] In addition, using the "letter" name instead of the "color" name, helps to further distinguish the streetcar line from UTA's TRAX lines.
  2. ^ The distinction between the terms streetcar (or tram) and light rail is often blurred and the WorldHeritage articles on both terms provide substantial discussion on the matter. In the United States, streetcars are included in (but mostly considered a subcategory of) what is referred to as light rail. However, light rail is distinguished from the term commuter rail.
  3. ^ While the vast majority of the S Line route is a single set of tracks (with a few passing tracks), UTA has provided few clues regarding possible future intentions to add an additional set of tracks. The first is that the South Salt Lake City stop is an island platform, even though there is initially only one set of tracks running along the median of Central Pointe Place. There is, however, ample room to install a second set of tracks on the other (north) side of the island platform and still leave a lane for westbound vehicular traffic. However, a greater clue is that when the tracks were installed across State Street (US-89), the busiest roadway that the S Line crosses, a second set of tracks were installed as well. These secondary tracks are north of the existing line and, while these tracks are in line with where any tracks that would run along the north side of the South Salt Lake City stop platform would connect, the secondary tracks only extend to just beyond the edges of the State Street right-of-way and do not connect to anything, yet. Furthermore, it appear that there is sufficient space along most, if not all, of the Phase 1 section to add a second set of tracks and additional passenger platforms, as necessary.
  4. ^ a b The Sugarmont stop was previously called 900 East in the planning stages of the Sugar House Streetcar
  5. ^ a b The Fairmont stop was previously called McClelland in the planning stages of the Sugar House Streetcar
  6. ^ Streetcar schedule is current as of Change Day, 13 April 2014
  7. ^ Due to its proximity to the TRAX passenger platform, and because the S Line platform is only accessible via the TRAX platform, the S Line platform at Central Pointe station does not have a payphone, but does have its own ticket vending machine.
  8. ^ Bus connections are current as of Change Day, 8 December 2013

References

  1. ^
  2. ^
  3. ^ a b c d e f
  4. ^ a b c
  5. ^ a b c d e
  6. ^ a b c d
  7. ^
  8. ^ a b c d e
  9. ^
  10. ^
  11. ^
  12. ^ a b
  13. ^ a b
  14. ^
  15. ^
  16. ^
  17. ^
  18. ^
  19. ^
  20. ^ a b
  21. ^
  22. ^ a b
  23. ^
  24. ^
  25. ^
  26. ^
  27. ^
  28. ^
  29. ^
  30. ^
  31. ^
  32. ^
  33. ^
  34. ^

External links

  • Sugar House Streetcar Project Website
  • Sugar House Streetcar fact sheet (pdf)
  • UTA's overview of Sugar House Streetcar Project
  • S-Line schedule on UTA website
  • Map of UTA's rail system


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