UTAH Transit Authority’s 24 km TRAX light rail line between Salt Lake City and Sandy was opened on December 4. Joining UTA Chairman Jim Clark and General Manager John Inglish for the ceremonies marking early completion of the $312m line were acting Federal Transit Administrator Nuria Fernandez, Utah Governor Mike Leavitt and APTA President Bill Millar.

Following the formal ceremonies, UTA offered free rides for the rest of the day. An estimated 45000 to 50000 people rode the 23 LRVs - more than twice the number expected. All 16 stations were overwhelmed, with passengers queueing for up to 2h to board a train. To relieve the pressure, UTA agreed to offer free rides on the following Saturday. Revenue services began on Monday December 6, when almost 20000 passengers were carried, surpassing the projected average of 14000.

UTA officials are still waiting for the City Council to give the go-ahead for a 4 km branch from the city centre to the University of Utah’s Rice-Eccles Stadium. This is the only part of the 17·5 km west-east line from the Airport to the University which could still be built in time for the 2002 Winter Olympics.

  • On December 9 Bi-State Development Agency confirmed the funding for a 13·7 km extension of the St Louis MetroLink LRT from Belleville to Scott Air Force Base and MidAmerica airport. The FTA and Illinois will each contribute $60m to the $124m project, and St Clair County will raise the rest. The 28·5 km extension from East St Louis to Belleville Area College is due to open in May 2001.