Happy birthday S-Line! Utah’s first modern streetcar began service five years ago this month, in December 2013.
About the S-Line
The S-Line is Utah’s first modern trolley and connects residential and commercial areas in Sugar House and South Salt Lake City. With seven stops along the two-mile route, the line is a convenient way to visit parks, shops and restaurants and connect with TRAX and bus lines. The line runs in a historic rail corridor alongside a bike and pedestrian greenway and connects to the Parley’s Trail system.
The S-Line currently operates on a single track, but a double-tracking project is underway. The addition of a section of passing track from 300 East to 500 East will allow the S-Line to provide more frequent service, serving stops every 15 minutes instead of every 20 minutes. The project is expected to be complete in early 2019.
Since the line opened on December 8, 2013, the South Salt Lake and Sugar House area of Salt Lake City have experienced significant growth, with the addition of more than 1,000 residential units and over 2 million square feet of redevelopment.
What Makes the S-Line a Streetcar?
The S-Line operates at a maximum speed of 25-miles per hour, with frequent stops. The line was specifically designed to be a neighborhood travel option, safely sharing the Parley’s Trail corridor with cyclists and pedestrians. The Siemens S70 cars used on the S-Line are the same as those used on TRAX but have a distinctive silver color scheme and operate as single cars.
Streetcars in Utah
Streetcars have a long and vibrant history in the Salt Lake valley. Mule-pulled streetcars operated in the city from 1872-1888. Electric streetcars began service in August 1889, and a fist-fight reportedly broke out among passengers jostling to be the first to ride (source). Several electric streetcar companies operated along the Wasatch Front until the vehicles were gradually replaced by buses in the 1930s and 40s. It would be nearly 70 years before another streetcar would carry passengers in Salt Lake City.
History of the S-Line
The S-Line is built on a rail corridor that originally served as a spur of the Denver & Rio Grande Western Railroad. (See a historic map that shows the spur here.) The line was also used to transport goods to the Granite Furniture Store and Burton Lumber’s Sugar House location. UTA purchased the rail corridor from Union Pacific in 2002, in an acquisition that also included FrontRunner and the Mid-Jordan TRAX Line areas.
Planning for the S-Line began in 2006, as UTA and partnering organizations evaluated the best way to expand transportation through the growing neighborhoods of South Salt Lake and Sugar House. The S-Line was chosen as a way to efficiently connect residents to TRAX while boosting economic development in the area. Funding was provided through a $26 million U.S. Department of Transportation grant.
In the five years since it opened, the S-Line has become a fixture of the rapidly growing South Salt Lake and Sugar House neighborhoods. Ridership has increased 60 percent since the first full month of S-Line operation in January 2014, with 1,329 average weekday boardings in October 2018.
Ride the S-Line
If you haven’t given the S-Line a try, now’s the time. Ride to Sugar House for dinner and shopping, then take a leisurely stroll around Fairmont Park. Twenty-minute service and connections to the TRAX system at Central Pointe Station make riding the S-Line simple and convenient. Fare is $2.50 and we offer free transfers for two hours if transferring from TRAX or a bus. Likewise, if you purchase S-Line fare, you can transfer to TRAX or a bus free of charge.
Stay Tuned for S-Line News and Announcements
Follow us here and on Twitter and Facebook as we continue to mark the fifth anniversary of the S-Line and two sections of our TRAX system. Both the Green Line segment from North Temple Station to the Salt Lake International Airport and the Blue Line extension to Draper were completed in 2013.