What You Need to Know About Getting Around Salt Lake City

Knowing the best way to navigate a new city can make all the difference in the world. That’s why we’ve compiled a list of some of the most frequently asked questions about transportation in Salt Lake City.

So without further ado:

How bad is traffic in Salt Lake City?

Salt Lake City Traffic

Locals will tell you that traffic peaks during the rush hours of 4:30 to 6:00 p.m., but compared to the congestion of other major cities, traffic in Salt Lake City is among the best. According to census data collected in 2013, the average commute in the Salt Lake City area is 23 minutes long, which is lower than the national average.

If you’re coming from the East Coast or even a city like LA or San Diego, this will seem like a breeze. However, your commute will be affected by whether you’re heading into or out of Salt Lake City during rush hour because more people commute to Salt Lake City for work than commute out.

So where is traffic the worst and how can I keep up to date?

As mentioned before, traffic will be the worst during the evening rush hour. You’ll also find the north/south freeway known as the I-15 to be busier than the I-80 or Bangerter Highway. Additionally, since the I-15 sits atop a mountain, traffic will often congest around “the point of the mountain,” a landmark located about 20 miles south of downtown Salt Lake City. This should only affect your commute if you are heading south beyond Draper, or traveling north toward Salt Lake County from Utah County.

We recommend searching your route ahead of time if you’ll have to commute for work. If you have a smartphone, consider using the Waze app to get a live map of traffic with a list of potential routes and their travel time. You can also tune your car radio to the local KSL News radio station (102.7 FM or 1160 AM) to listen to traffic updates every ten minutes.

Is there a public transportation alternative for getting around Salt Lake City?

SLC Green Bike

Yes! Absolutely.

If you really want to avoid the traffic congestion of the freeways then Salt Lake City’s buses and trains will be your best option. Over the past ten years, the Utah Transit Authority (UTA) has improved the transit options throughout the state, but especially within Salt Lake City.

Chances are you’ll still need a car to get around if you work outside the city or leave the city on the weekends, since the availability of some public transit routes may change for Saturday and Sunday.

In addition to buses, you’ll find a light rail system known as TRAX and a train system known as the FrontRunner. The TRAX works as a ground level street car that travels within the city, while FrontRunner goes north and south from Ogden to Provo.

All of these require you to purchase a ticket or to tap on if you have an electronic pass. You can plan your route ahead of time by using this trip planner. If you’re on the go you can use these UTA-recommended apps or simply use the transit option in Google Maps.

BONUS:

There is a Free Fare Zone in downtown of Salt Lake City. Be sure to check out the map below to know where zone is because the transit police will issue a hefty fee ($157 at least) if you use any form of public transit without proof of purchase.


UTA Free Fare Zone

If you don’t own a bike, you can test out the bike share program in downtown known as GREENbike. Memberships are available on a 24-hour, four-day, or annual basis. For a complete map of the city’s bike roads, head over to BikeSLC and happy riding!

Are there alternative forms of travel available?

If you frequently use Uber or Lyft, and even if you never have, you can rest assured because both services are available in the Salt Lake City area. Plus, both services go beyond Salt Lake City and service the Wasatch Front (approximately between Nephi and Brigham City, with limited service in some cities). You will also find a handful of local taxi services like Ute Cab or Taxi SLC. Check with your ride of choice for more information.

Doride Uvaldo-Nelson

Doridé Uvaldo-Nelson is an Arizonan writing and living out of Utah. She’s moved over ten times in the span of five years and learned something new every time. Check out her local guides on Salt Lake City living on move.org.