A Female Champion for Salt Lake City’s 'Transportation Revolution'

Robin Hutcheson has led the transportation planning division of Salt Lake City since 2011—a period of expansion for multi-modal transportation improvements all over the city.
March 26, 2014, 10am PDT | James Brasuell | @CasualBrasuell
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Sarah Goodyear’s recent article details both the rarity of a woman—in this case Robin Hutcheson—leading a large municipal transportation agency, as well as the ongoing evolution of Salt Lake City’s transportation network.

On the outlier represented by Hutcheson: “Pretty much every job in the transportation profession, from mechanics to road engineers, from truck drivers to airline pilots, has traditionally been dominated by men.” Goodyear quotes Marcia Ferranto, president and CEO of Women’s Transportation Seminar, to make the point that recruiting and retaining more women to the transportation field is in the interest of everyone: “There's a real crisis going on globally in transportation workforce development…We need to attract more people to transportation.”

Goodyear shares an anecdote in the article, however, of Hutcheson consistently shifting the focus away from herself, and onto Salt Lake City. With that in mind, following are some of the recent, sweeping changes in a city with an autocentric infrastructure and culture. “This is a car culture, no mistaking it,” says Goodyear, who also cites statistics that only 20 percent of the city’s cyclists are women.

  • Salt Lake City recently launched a new low-cost transit card called the Hive Pass for Salt Lake residents. “It's a pilot program designed to take into account the type of trips made by the 190,000 residents of Salt Lake, which are often shorter and more numerous than those of the 1.2 million who live in the larger, suburban metropolitan area.”
  • “Since a commuter rail line connecting Salt Lake to Provo opened in December 2012, public transit ridership in Utah has soared 103 percent.”
  • “TRAX, the sleek light rail system that runs within the city, has been steadily expanding since 1999, when the first line opened, and has met or exceeded ridership projections throughout its short history. The current plan calls for two more lines to open by 2015, and so far it's ahead of schedule and under budget. TRAX ridership was up 6.8 percent last year.”
  • “Last December, a streetcar line with a walking and biking trail alongside it opened in the rapidly developing Sugarhouse neighborhood.” (Late last year, however, ridership numbers had so far proved underwhelming on the line.)
  • Salt Lake is increasing its budget for bike and pedestrian capital improvements—from $500,000 in 2009 to $3.5 million in 2014-2105.
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Published on Tuesday, March 25, 2014 in The Atlantic Cities
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