More Utahns are finding other ways besides their vehicles to get from place to place. It’s part of a trend described in a new report by the Southwest Energy Efficiency Project, a think tank that’s reporting transit use is up and driving is down.
"In Utah, since the peak in 2002,” says Mike Salisbury, the report’s co-author, “people are now driving over a thousand miles less per year.”
That amounts to 11.5 percent less driving in 2013. Meanwhile, Utahns are hopping on transit around 14 percent more.
These trends are playing out in other Southwest states and the rest of the country, too, as retiring Baby Boomers drive less and Millennials embrace car-free living. Salisbury says investing in transit is smart for Utah but planners could spend more on what he calls “active transit.”
“We’d really like to see more of a focus on how can we shift that funding to biking infrastructure, bike lanes, and making pedestrian access better for people everywhere.”
Utah’s long-term transportation plans take an all-of-the above approach. Andrew Gruber, executive director of the Wasatch Front Regional Council, says planners are concentrating on giving Utahns choices.
“With the limited area that we have to grow, it’s so important for our economy and our air quality that we provide options for people for how to get around.”
Gruber says trains and busses, sidewalks and bike paths, are all part of that mix -- along with roads.