Keep up with essential planning news and commentary, delivered to your inbox every Monday and Thursday.
Salt Lake City's Transit Era
Becker also talks about the transformative role of transit in his city.
"U.S. News and World Report: How have you seen public transit affect other areas of life in your city?
Ralph Becker: Having a good transit system is what gives people options for ways to get around. We're never going to be able to compete with the automobile for convenience to the individual to be able to go wherever you want, whenever you want. But the key to transit is that it be convenient and accessible, and that means there needs to be regular enough service and you need to be able to get there quickly enough. A transit system isn't necessarily different from a road system. You've got freeways to carry high volumes, but you've [also] got high-speed rail, commuter rail, or in our case here, light rail to carry volumes of people quickly. And then for access through the community, you've got other modes--whether it's a streetcar system or light rail or buses--to sort of match the street or travel patterns. If we can build a transit system that helps relieve congestion, that helps relieve the need to build very expensive parking, that helps relieve air quality issues we face in the [Salt Lake] Valley and reduce our carbon footprint, all of those things provide for the kind of lifestyle that people want today. In my mind, a good transit system is going to be a key in this transforming time to having the kinds of communities we want."