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America's Passengers, Mayor Becker Honor Salt Lake City's Transportation Vision

October 17, 2014

Release #14-15

October 17, 2014

Sean Jeans-Gail, NARP – 202-408-8362

America's Passengers, Mayor Becker Honor Salt Lake City's Transportation Vision

Salt Lake City—The National Association of Railroad Passengers (NARP) is presenting an award Saturday to Salt Lake City Mayor Ralph Becker, honoring Salt Lake City’s officials and community leaders for building a rail transit system that has become a national model for smart growth. Becker will be joined by Federal Railroad Administrator Joseph Szabo to commemorate the award and discuss the future of passenger rail and transit in Utah and the U.S.

NARP leaders and members have gathered in Salt Lake City to recognize the city’s pioneering approach to changing attitudes towards public transportation, fostering a culture which made possible its ambitious expansion of light and commuter rail systems.

“Keeping people moving requires using every tool in your toolbox, and NARP is here to encourage this great city to continue to innovate within and beyond its borders. There’s a saying about transit: ‘Even if you don’t ride it, you use it.’ People here get that; they understand that full trains help to deal with full highways,” said NARP President Jim Mathews. “NARP is working at the national level to make sure visionary communities like Salt Lake City have the resources they need to build a world class infrastructure for the future our children deserve.”

"We're honored to be recognized by the NARP for our work, in partnership with UTA, municipal and state partners and community stakeholders, on behalf of residents to grow our public transit and transportation options," said Salt Lake City Mayor Ralph Becker. "The commuter and light rail expansions are having profound, widespread and positive impacts in our city that include contributing to the improvement of our air quality, enhancing the walkability and livability of our neighborhoods and creating options to automobile travel."

“Increasing the level of investment in our rail system is essential for our nation to safely, reliably, and efficiently move up to 100 million additional people and four billion tons of freight in the next 35 years,” said Federal Railroad Administrator Joseph C. Szabo. “The GROW AMERICA Act would, for the first time, provide predictable, dedicated federal rail funding; investing in existing state corridors while providing an additional $6.4 billion for rail service improvements along existing, expanding and new passenger corridors over the next four years.”

This train network has served to protect the mobility of the region’s residents in the face of a rapidly growing populace, with the U.S. Census Bureau naming Utah’s population as the second fastest-growing in the nation. The foundation for accommodating this growth was established in 2006, when the Salt Lake County Council voted to significantly expand Transit Express (TRAX), the local rail transit system. This infrastructure investment was funded through a local sales tax, and allowed for connections to South Jordan, West Valley, Draper, and the Salt Lake City International Airport.

These projects created tens of thousands of jobs—though regional economic growth along the corridors, through construction and operation, and through domestic manufacturing (at the time, the Utah Transit Authority’s order for 77 Siemens vehicles was the largest ever light rail order ever placed in the U.S.). These lines are also contributing to an improved quality of life for residents. The Salt Lake City-area has struggled with air quality over the last decade, a byproduct of its rapid growth, with almost 60 percent of the region’s emissions come from cars and trucks. Allowing people to travel on safe, clean, energy-efficient rail lines does more than protect the state’s economically vibrant tourism industry—it supports healthier families.

What: NARP Tracks to the Future Award, with remarks by Federal Administrator Joseph Szabo and Mayor Ralph Becker.
When: Saturday, October 18, 2014
8:30 a.m. – 10:00 p.m.
Where: Doubletree Suites Hotel
110 West 600 South
Salt Lake City, UT 84101

For more information, visit www.narprail.org/narp-awards.

About the National Association of Railroad Passengers NARP is the only national organization speaking for the users of passenger trains and rail transit. We have worked since 1967 to expand the quality and quantity of passenger rail in the U.S. Our mission is to work towards a modern, customer-focused national passenger train network that provides a travel choice Americans want. Our work is supported by over 28,000 individual members.