Passengers pack new rail line to Salt Lake airport

Published on NewsOK Modified: April 26, 2013 at 4:08 pm •  Published: April 26, 2013
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SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — The Utah Transit Authority is moving thousands of passengers a day on a 6-mile light-rail line to Salt Lake City International Airport from the city's downtown, with ridership exceeding expectations, transit analysts said Friday.

About 4,800 people a day boarded the line from the downtown station during the first week of operation starting April 15.

The line is also tempting thieves who use it for getaways after stealing luggage from airport terminals.

Two men have been arrested in the past week for baggage thefts, and authorities are stepping up security by randomly asking people hauling luggage to show proof of ownership, said Barbara Gann, a spokeswoman for the airport.

"We're catching these thieves, and we anticipated this phenomenon," Gann said. "Other cities opening rail transit to airports have had the same experience."

The daily passenger count of about 4,800 people doesn't include passengers headed to the airport who were already on the Green line before a downtown stop. The Green line originates in West Valley City.

Analysts can't determine from electronic boarding records how many people are getting off at the airport, but the trains are generally crowded throughout the day with baggage-carrying passengers, UTA spokesman Remi Barron said.

Bruce Jackson, who owns City Cab, said the rail line has left plenty of business for taxis because the trains can't serve everybody or people in a hurry.

"It's busy for us," Jackson said. "We haven't even noticed light rail is in play. We really haven't seen a significant impact."