Since a commuter rail line connecting Salt Lake to Provo opened in December 2012, public transit ridership in Utah has soared 103 percent. TRAX, the sleek light rail system that runs within the city, has been steadily expanding since 1999, when the first line opened, and has met or exceeded ridership projections throughout its short history. The current plan calls for two more lines to open by 2015, and so far it’s ahead of schedule and under budget. TRAX ridership was up 6.8 percent last year.
Meanwhile, Hutcheson and her team have been working hard to make Salt Lake a more welcoming city for people on bicycles and on foot. Last December, a streetcar line with a walking and biking trail alongside it opened in the rapidly developing Sugarhouse neighborhood. Salt Lake has been granted a budget for bike and pedestrian capital improvements that will be about $3.5 million for 2014-2105, up from just under $500,000 in 2009. They’ve got a seasonal bike-share up and running, they’ve been striping new bike lanes all over town, and they’ve piloted some protected lane designs as well — a project that will be expanded this summer. Hutcheson knows that international research has shown protected lanes encourage more women to ride. She wants to see that happen, as currently only around 20 percent of the city’s cyclists are women.