Salt Lake City International Airport
(SLC) occupies a large area west of downtown and east of the Great Salt Lake. The airport serves as the hub for Delta Airlines and is busy for the size of the city—a frequent layover for many Western travelers within sight of the Wasatch Mountain Range. Salt Lake City transportation from the airport is limited, for now. The Airport light rail TRAX line is still under construction and not scheduled for completion until 2013, but buses do run from the airport to downtown. Taxis, shuttles and rental cars take 10-15 minutes to reach the center of downtown, and many services can take you directly from the airport to mountain resorts.
The city is served by Greyhound Lines
, in the Salt Lake City Intermodal Hub, where buses depart to numerous locations in Utah and beyond. No reservations are required, but Greyhound does recommend arriving an hour before departure to purchase a ticket and board if you choose this form of Salt Lake City transportation.
While train travel in and out of Salt Lake isn’t common, the Amtrak
station occupies part of the Salt Lake City Intermodal Hub (340 South 600 West). The stop is served by one line only, the California Zephyr, which runs between San Francisco and Chicago, and offers once daily service in each direction. Be prepared for delays, as the train often waits for passing Union Pacific trains, which share the track. Baggage can be checked at the Salt Lake City station.
Don’t waste your time waiting by the side of the street for a taxi in this town. Although it’s perfectly legal to hail a cab, you won’t see many passing by. Instead, call for 24-hour service from the city’s three major cab companies—City Cab, Yellow Cab and Ute Cab—or have your hotel or restaurant do it for you. All taxis are metered and a one-way fare from the airport should cost about $15.
Driving is one of the primary methods of Salt Lake City transportation. The city is very car-friendly, with its wide streets and well-marked roads. Beware of TRAX trains in certain parts of town—you’ll be sharing the road with them. Freeways are ample and provide easy access to ski resorts and canyons. Drivers are becoming increasingly aware of bicycles, and the city’s pushing for more bicycle use by installing more bike lanes and commuter programs. Parking can run about $10 a day downtown, but street side meters can be the more affordable choice (especially with two free hours of parking on Saturdays).
Public Salt Lake City transportation received a boost in 1999, when the Utah Transit Authority (UTA) opened the city’s first light rail line, called TRAX
. While slightly controversial at the time, ridership has exceeded expectations ever since, and today three lines shuttle people from the University of Utah to downtown, Sandy and Midvale. Three more lines are under construction, including one to the airport. UTA also opened a commuter train line to help alleviate the area’s ongoing problem with traffic congestion in 2008. FrontRunner North runs from Pleasant View to Salt Lake and FrontRunner South, which will end in Provo, is currently under construction. Also consider riding UTA buses, an inexpensive way to get around the city.
Useful information about public transportation:
You’ll ride one of three TRAX lines, the Green, Blue or Red. The lines are pretty straightforward and maps are plentiful at stations and on trains. Be sure to purchase your standard-fare ticket before you board the train; there’s no way to buy tickets onboard and UTA officers randomly board and ask to see tickets. If you don’t have one, you’ll be fined. Bicycles are allowed on TRAX and buses are equipped with bike racks. The FrontRunner train does not run on Sundays, and service on TRAX and buses are limited on Sundays. During the winter, buses run frequently to ski resorts. Check www.rideuta.com for a real time count of parking spaces available at the three lots serving Big and Little Cottonwood Canyon. There’s a free fare zone downtown, which includes the State Capitol building, Temple Square, the intermodal hub and the Main Library. Consider taking public transportation to big events—Utah Jazz games, the symphony, concerts, etc. While parking is usually plentiful, it can be expensive and time-consuming to find a spot. Take advantage of park-and-ride lots located at specific TRAX stations and at the bottom of canyons.