It makes sense to extend the Sugar House streetcar line another half mile to bring it to where people are. And that's about all that makes sense in the streetcar saga, which should make Salt Lake City's transportation planners nervous.
Mayor Ralph Becker, a planner by trade, should be commended for taking a far-reaching view of moving people around in a city growing ever more congested and polluted. He risks losing ground, however, if he doesn't do a better job of bringing his constituents, and his city council, along with him. Even those council members who eventually voted for the mayor's plan to extend the line spoke openly of their frustrations with the city and its partnership with Utah Transit Authority.
The mayor's defense, of course, is that time is on his side. As the city's population grows and roads become more congested, mass and alternative transit will be well positioned. That idea extends to the belief that urban development should center around train stops. Indeed, with ridership on the Sugar House line about a third of what was predicted, the idea of encouraging transit-oriented development has become the first selling point for the line, the argument being that the ridership eventually will come.