Graffiti on TRAX can?t be tolerated

By By Liz Carlston and By Liz Carlston

By Liz Carlston

The state government is using federal stimulus money to expand Utah’s transportation highways and the Utah Transit Authority TRAX lines. Many U students depend on TRAX each day to attend classes and other events on campus. Unfortunately, the main TRAX line has fallen victim to tagging, primarily between 1300 South and 7200 South.

A new white fence along the Hamlet Homes residential development at 3900 South, businesses and even the street artist Statue of Liberty mural closer to downtown, have been hit with ugly black spray paint. Frankly, I’m inclined to get a bucket of white paint and a roller to blot out the ugly tagging, but I know I’d get busted for vandalizing private property.

After an initial series of calls to UTA and then South Salt Lake City’s graffiti hot line, I was told nothing could be done. Although the tags are on UTA’s side of the property line, it is not their property, so they can’t do anything about the spray paint. In addition, the city said that they couldn’t do anything because UTA wouldn’t let them on the train line to clean up the marks. With this kind of progress, it looks like a graffiti-saturated future.

In Malcolm Gladwell’s book The Tipping Point he outlines how ideas catch on and how change can occur. One of his examples shows how the crime rate in New York was at extremely high levels. The chief of police approached the problem by first removing the graffiti from the city’s rail and subway lines. This initial effort caused a dramatic reduction in crime because it showed the taggers that they would no longer be tolerated.

Although Salt Lake City definitely doesn’t pop up on any “worst cities to live in” lists, it definitely isn’t acceptable for private spaces in public sight to be covered with graffiti.
“Usually, whoever’s property it’s on, it’s their responsibility,” said UTA spokesperson Carrie Bohnsack-Ware. “Property owners need to coordinate with us because we don’t want anyone to get hit by a train.”

UTA has taken the information to the Salt Lake City Police Department. Supposedly, all of the graffiti along the TRAX line will be cleaned up in the coming weeks8212;so cross your fingers.

It’s lame that TRAX patrons must continue seeing vandalism during their travels, but at least UTA and the city’s “catch-22” appears to be cleared up and the graffiti will soon go away. Let’s hope the city can better discourage this kind of vandalism in the future.

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Liz Carlston