What’s the future of Utah transportation? One expert says air taxis

Jul 10, 2024, 1:00 PM | Updated: Jul 16, 2024, 8:30 am

A yellow air taxi flies across a building in a conceptual rendering....

A digital concept rendering of an air taxi. (Canva)


SALT LAKE CITY — Between now and the potential 2034 Salt Lake City Winter Olympics, Utah could see some major transportation upgrades. One of them could be the installation of air taxis. 

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“Well, the Olympics is going to be a blessing for the state. It’s obviously going to drive more investment into the state and we’re going to invite spectators from around the world [to] right here along the Wasatch Front to come and participate in the game[s],” said Aaron Starks, the Utah Aerospace and Defense president. 

Utah is among the fastest-growing states in the U.S. According to Starks, people are having a hard time getting around. 

“We can’t continue to grow horizontally on roads. We’ve got to think vertical,” said Starks. 

So, what’s the solution? 

Starks said several local communities have contacted Utah Aerospace and Defense. They have expressed a desire for the installation of vertiports. 

According to Collins Dictionary, vertiports are landing pads designated for aircraft to take off and land vertically. They would enable air taxis to pick up and drop off passengers within communities. 

According to Starks, there are some benefits to air taxis and vertiports. Firstly, electric air transportation is better for the environment. It is also cheaper. 

“It’s far less investment and we can move people around the state with greater ease,” said Starks. 

Additionally, Starks said that the technology exists. It is already being used to deliver groceries and other small goods. 

In efforts to move toward using the technology to move people, Starks said a coalition has been formed. Their effort has been dubbed Project Alta. 

“Project Alta is a 10-year initiative focused on developing the infrastructure needed to move people and cargo via aircraft around the state,” said Starks. “The state has come together recognizing that this is innovative. That it’s better [for] the environment [and] that will help our air quality. And so they really leaned into this.” 

Would air taxis eliminate current infrastructure? 

According to Starks, the new transportation method would work alongside existing modes, such as TRAX and buses. 

“It will be in a fully integrated effort with UTA,” said Starks. 

Starks gave traveling from Provo to Saratoga Springs as an example. Currently, it can take 30 or more minutes to get from one city to the other, as drivers have to go around the lake. 

“We can… create a vertical on both sides of the lake that will move people all day long at a fraction of the cost. So it’ll be very much a user interface where you can get on, purchase your monthly pass, and be able to commute to Provo,” said Starks. 

Air taxis have the potential to reduce traffic on the roads, easing congestion and reducing emissions from gas-powered cars and buses. 

Related: Unusual transportation would require registration says possible new legislation

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What’s the future of Utah transportation? One expert says air taxis