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For week ended March 26, 2000 Posted 24 Feb 2001
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News about Mormons, Mormonism,
and the LDS Church
Sent on Mormon-News: 23Mar00

Summarized by Rosemary Pollock

LDS May Rent TRAX for Conference
Salt Lake Tribune 23Mar00 D1
By Brandon Loomis: Salt Lake Tribune


Rent-a-TRAX Planned for Sundays; Rule may kick in prior to LDS conference
Salt Lake Tribune 18Mar00 D1
By Brandon Loomis: Salt Lake Tribune

SALT LAKE CITY, UTAH -- The LDS Church has been approved by the Utah Transit Authority to rent Salt Lake City's light rail system for General Conference on Sunday, April 2nd, when the system is normally closed. While the Church hasn't yet said that it will rent the system, approval has been granted and the system is available. The approval comes as the Church plans to use its new Conference Center for the meetings, accommodating more than 20,000 people, three times the number that could be accomodated at previous sessions of General Conference.

Utah Transit Authority drafted and approved a rule that would allow community groups to rent TRAX light rail on Sundays or after regular business hours. In consideration of the LDS Church's general conference in April, the ruling will allow access for all "in the interest of the authority and the community." The conditions of the ruling would require that any group requesting extra service would have to pay for the operation and staffing which is estimated at $30,000 a day. The trains would keep their regular schedules and stop at every station.

"It's very common, but we don't have the funding to extend service now," said UTA spokesman Kris McBride on Friday. In the past, the agency has extended bus service for events such as the NCAA basketball tournament.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints requested the UTA to consider running TRAX to help alleviate traffic in downtown Salt Lake City on April 2, the second day of its annual conference. This conference will mark the opening of the new 20,000-seat Conference Center north of Temple Square.

The request has caused some concern among churchgoers and recent letters to the editor at the Salt Lake Tribune. With the church discouraging work on Sundays, why would it ask for the trains to run? One LDS Church member, Margaret Heighton of South Jordan said, "If they pay for it, yeah." "I don't want it to come out of my pocket as a taxpayer, but it's going to come out of my pocket as a tithing payer." Heighton rode the trains in England and said, "If Sunday buses wouldn't have been available, I wouldn't have been able to go to church." "There are people who need the service on Sunday."

Church spokesman Michael Purdy said LDS officials have not yet decided what to do and are waiting for the UTA board to give them more information. "We had discussions with them earlier, but no decisions have been made," Purdy said. "The church has not taken a position supporting or discouraging transit on Sundays," he said.


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