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For week ended December 12, 1999 Posted 18 Dec 1999

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Mormon Men in 50s called chief opponents to SLC TRAX system(Letter From The Editor)

Summarized by Rosemary Pollock

Mormon Men in 50s called chief opponents to SLC TRAX system(Letter From The Editor)
Salt Lake Tribune 12Dec99 B2
By James Shelledy: Salt Lake Tribune Editor

SALT LAKE CITY, UTAH -- Utah Transit Authority engineer John Inglish, has been called visionary. He envisioned a light rail train coming to Salt Lake City ever since joining UTA in the late '70s. A week ago Saturday, seemingly every man, woman and child turned out in Salt Lake City to take their inaugural ride on TRAX. TRAX is a light rail train of cars that will run inbound and outbound of the city.

TRAX is barely a week old and Inglish is already talking about a spur to West Jordan on an existing right of way. He dreams of extending the existing line to Draper and Bountiful, perhaps even Lagoon. How about a commuter morning/evening service on the Union Pacific roadbed to Provo and Ogden? It may all be possible before he retires except for one problem, white Mormon males over 50.

The low point of this visionary's otherwise optimistic 30-year march to light rail came in 1992 when a referendum on a quarter-cent sales tax increase failed by a 7.5 percent margin. Inglish blames the culprits, the "White Mormon Males over 50." "I've got to change their minds," said the 54-year-old Inglish who is also a white Mormon male. He bristles at the idea of having to get ballot approval for his extended ideas. "They never have referendums on freeways," said Inglish.

Living proof that TRAX will be a success came in the form of lawyers, accountants, brokers and business executives who filled the trains to capacity in its first week. With a large professional base, Salt Lake City is not likely to be denied. City center parking currently ranges from $50 to $l00 a month.

When asked about free riding for the first three months, Inglish responds, "Forget it. We need the revenue." Teen joy riding? "Great! Clean fun if they aren't obnoxious." How about post-midnight runs on Fridays and Saturdays? "It would require renegotiating the lease of TRAX tracks for freight use between midnight and 5 a.m., but it's not out of the question."

The projection for TRAX's success could reach l4,00 to l8,000-plus during winter months. What upsets him is that his hair is still red. "I have earned some gray hairs, don't you think?"

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