Tuesday, March 30, 2010


Dear stupid Provo pedestrian:
There are those pedestrians who wait for long periods of time at marked crosswalks for someone to stop for them. There are those pedestrians who take off running at any point on the street whether there is a crosswalk or a car coming or not. And then there are pedestrians like you, who dart out into the middle of the street without looking, and then IN THE MIDDLE OF THE STREET freeze because you see a car coming. If you're going to dash across the street without looking, at least have the decency to continue dashing without looking until you get to the other side of the street. The driver of the car heading straight for you will only mildly hate you, instead of despising you.

Saturday, March 27, 2010


Today I saw a sight I have never seen -- people get turned away from the 822 because there wasn't room for them. On a Saturday! People were going to the Festival of Colors, and to avoid the terrible parking hassle that always accompanies going to the Festival of Colors, they wisely chose to avail themselves of public transportation. Unfortunately, the 822 is the only bus that goes anywhere south of Provo on a Saturday, and it only runs once every 2 hours on Saturdays (I don't think I need to expound on my feelings about THAT), so those people that were turned away at 2:00 had to wait until 4:00 or find alternate means of conveyance, unless I'm mistaken (which is rare, but possible).

I think there's a great opportunity here. Tons of BYU students go to the Krishna temple for various events, and no one enjoys hiking miles from your parking spot to the event. UTA could advertise shuttle service from BYU to the temple, and (just for these few days out of the year) run a bus more often than once every two hours, and (just for these few days out of the year) stop right in front of the temple to let people on and off. I'm sure that 822 today made more money in just that one trip than it usually does all day on a regular Saturday. Event organizers would probably also not mind renting less parking for their events. Everyone wins.

I'm tellin' y'all -- mass transit is the answer!

Wednesday, March 24, 2010


1. An umbrella
Most of us have, at some point, been caught out in the rain. Now imagine you're out in the rain at the corner of 1300 East and Wilmington in Salt Lake, where there is nothing remotely approximating shelter, waiting for the 220, which is coming who-knows-when because you don't have a schedule. You need an umbrella.

2. A mini-flashlight
I used to think that there were streetlights everywhere in the greater Wasatch Front area. That was until I went to a friend's going-away party in Holladay, which involved walking down about ten blocks of Holladay Blvd, which has sections with neither sidewalks nor streetlights. Did I mention it was snowing? (Thank heaven I had an umbrella!) Once I got into the subdivision, there were NO streetlights anywhere, and I found myself awkwardly stooping over mailboxes in an attempt to find house numbers. I thought, someone's going to see me stooping and shoot me. Gee, a flashlight would be nice right about now. In addition, a flashlight can serve as a useful signaling device in poorly lit areas so that drivers of both cars and buses can see you. The only thing possibly worse than being hit by a car because the driver couldn't see you is missing the last bus of the night far from home because the driver couldn't see you.

3. A watch
"But I have a cell phone to tell time."
Cell phones die way more often than watches. It really stinks when they do. You need a backup. Plus, what better insurance policy against missing the bus could you have than a watch tastefully set to one or two minutes earlier than the atomic clock at the Transit Center in Orem? That way, even if you do miss the bus, you can mention the fact that your watch is early in the scathing email you send UTA later that evening. Also, when you take the bus to the gym (as only hardcore bussers do), your watch doesn't fall off your wrist nearly as easily as your phone falls out of your pocket while you're upside-down doing decline bench presses.

4. Amusement
Bus adventures rarely go exactly as planned, and even when they do, they may involve inconvenient layovers at places such as Highland Drive and Ft. Union Blvd. where the people watching isn't so interesting. A book, crossword puzzle, sudoku, multivariablecalculus homework, etc. is invaluable to pass the time. All of the aforementioned activities keep your brain active, which helps ward off Alzheimer's disease and age-related memory loss. So, instead of wasting time on public transportation, you are actually taking proactive steps toward your future mental health. Win!

5. Cough drops
Because no one wants to spend a forty-five-minute bus journey coughing. And no one wants to sit next to the guy who is coughing for forty-five minutes.

6. Sunglasses
My eyes are particularly sensitive to sunlight, so I wear sunglasses most of the time I'm outside anyway. But even those with robust eyes will feel the need for a good pair of shades the next time they are waiting to catch the 831 southbound north to BYU in the afternoon and find themselves staring directly west for extended periods of time in the hopes of discerning their approaching conveyance. Trust me on this one.

7. A backpack
Obviously you're not going to carry all this stuff in your hands -- how would you be able to hold your bus pass? So you're going to need a backpack to put all this stuff in, and anything else you deem necessary. Obviously you don't want to take too much on the road with you, but the aforementioned items will hardly be a strain on your back to carry, and their presence will make your trip much more enjoyable.

Image credits: 1. kaboodle.com; 2. cgi.ebay.com; 3. winningtimeusa.com; 4. timeforkids.com; 5. mountainside-medical.com; 6. overstock.com 7. fourpeasonline.com.

Monday, March 22, 2010


Dear stupid Provo driver:
Turning left has to be one of the hardest things to do while driving. It must be, because so many people don't seem to do it right. I'm going to give you the benefit of the doubt and assume that you just never learned that when there is a turning lane and you want to turn left, you have to completely exit the lane of traffic you are in to allow the bus behind you to continue its journey toward University Mall. Unfortunately, being exactly half in the turning lane and half in the traffic lane just doesn't cut it. I'm also going to assume that you were unable to see all the cars behind you, and a hulking UTA bus, awkwardly swerve around you on the way to where they were going.

So, now you have been informed. Let me know if you have any questions.


Most of the bus drivers around here are nice.
Some of them are kind of testy, but not problematic.
One of them is almost always mean. I will not refer to him by name on the Internet, but those of you who have heard me talk about the Anal-Retentive Bus Driver know who I mean.

So anyway, Saturday I took a bus I don't usually take on Saturdays, and as the bus approached I realized it was the Anal-Retentive Bus Driver, and I thought "oh, dear, here we go again." However, when I got on the bus, I was surprised to see him in a noticeably good mood. He didn't stare me down or lecture me about standing in the wrong spot, holding my pass wrong, etc. He even cracked a half-smile as I boarded, which, compared to his usual scowl, looked like an enormous grin. As we passed another bus, he waved at the other bus driver instead of scowling at them. My mind = blown.

Don't get me wrong; I'm glad he was in a good mood for once. I'm just really confused.

Friday, March 19, 2010


Dear stupid Provo driver:

When is it okay to turn left at a traffic light?
a. When the light is green and there are no cars coming the opposite direction
b. When the light has just turned red and you're still in the turning lane
c. When you arrive at the light two seconds after it has turned red and traffic is beginning to move on the cross street

If you answered c, you were probably the person I saw today speed through the light long after it was red and turning without using your blinker. I bet in second grade you were that kid that always cut in the lunch line that everyone was annoyed at.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010


Someone left a copy of The Norton Shakespeare at the Law School bus stop yesterday. It was a big book! I thought I was the only person that did that kind of thing. Everyone who came up to the bus stop, including me, saw it sitting on the bench and would awkwardly stare at it for a moment before sitting down tentatively next to it. I checked inside the front cover, but there was no name. It was not there today, however, so I can only hope the person who originally left it behind was able to recover it.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010


Yesterday I was on the 811, on the way home from a successful purchase of gym shorts at Kohl's. Now, I have been asked some interesting questions on the bus before, but I was completely unprepared for the man across from me to ask "Is that a shirt?"

"Is that a shirt?"
"Yeah, it's a t-shirt, yeah."
"Oh, OK."

Upon further pursuance of this intriguing interlocution, I realized that what he was really asking was if it was a $5 t-shirt from the BYU Bookstore. I assured him it was not. The conversation sort of ended there, and then I got off the bus.

In retrospect, I was wearing a blue shirt, and he was holding a bookstore bag. But I still think the original question may have been phrased too broadly.

Monday, March 15, 2010


Most people who ride the bus know that you have to pull the cord to ask the bus driver to stop at the next stop (because if they didn't know that, they'd never be able to get off the bus). What some people don't know is that there's an art to pulling the cord. Of course, if you pull the cord too late, the bus driver has to slam on the brakes. That makes for a grumpy bus driver, and then you are responsible for increasing the misery index of the world. But what about people who pull the cord too early?

The danger of pulling the cord too early is that the bus driver will forget that the "Next Stop" noise went off a while ago. Then you have to shout "Stop!" which makes the bus driver cranky. Or, if you pull the cord immediately after the preceding stop, sometimes the bus driver will pull back off the road because he or she thinks that you actually wanted the stop before but weren't perspicacious enough to notice that it was coming. That makes for a grumpy bus driver too, but when you then have to awkwardly shout "Oops! I actually want the next one!", you get a REALLY grumpy bus driver, as well as bad vibes from everybody else on the bus. Naturally I've never ever done that, but when I have, I've apologized profusely.

The best time to pull the cord is about a block away from the stop, or, if the stops are only a block apart, halfway down the block. This gives the bus driver time to stop healthily, but not enough time to forget. Past equivocation aside, I take pride in knowing exactly when to pull the cord, and I must confess feeling a small twinge of annoyance when someone pulls the cord at my stop before I'm ready to.

Saturday, March 13, 2010


After having the same experience several times, I think I should star in a commercial for Target. The tagline would go something like this: "It takes me one bus to get to Wal-Mart, two to get to Target, but THREE to get to Wal-Mart, not find what I'm looking for, and then go to Target." I think is has nice ring, don't you?

Thursday, March 11, 2010


Dear stupid Provo pedestrian:

Most of the time this kind of letter is reserved for people who act irresponsibly, but this time was actually pretty stupid. I saw you and your friends crossing a busy street about 20 feet south of the crosswalk, which involved dodging traffic, standing for a minute on a six-inch-wide median with traffic whizzing by you on both sides, and then dodging traffic again. All the while there was a crosswalk with a green light twenty feet ahead of you. If you had just walked up to the intersection, you would have saved yourselves a lot of time. And if a car had tried to cross your path, you could just imperiously wave it back since you have the right of way (it gives you a marvelous feeling of power, you should try it sometime).


So yesterday I was on the 831 Southbound, and we were at the stop at 1500 W and Grand Ave. (The last one before you go down the big hill). The bus driver let someone off, and then we all noticed a woman running for the bus stop. There was a dog in the yard next to the bus stop, and he was running around and barking like all get out.

While we were waiting for the woman to board, the bus driver called out the open door "Here, boy! C'mere!" and whistled. The dog stopped short, came right up to the fence, and stared at the bus driver completely nonplussed for a few seconds. Then the dog saw the woman who was getting on the bus, came back to his senses, and barked furiously at her until she got on and the bus door closed. I love the 831.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010


Dear stupid Provo driver:
Did you know that when the car in front of you is stopped at a stop sign, you have to stop AGAIN when you get to the stop sign? I know, I don't like it either. But that's just the way life is. Sorry.


One snowy day I was on the 817. When we got to the American Fork Park 'n' Ride (which, as its name implies, involves a substantial parking lot), the topic of donuts was brought up and the bus driver called out "Wanna see a 360 in a 45-foot bus?" Good times.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010


Dear stupid Provo pedestrian:
People sometimes cross the street at times they shouldn't when they're in a hurry, but I rarely see someone saunter across the street against a red light and waltz around the car in the turning lane. Especially at Wal-Mart, which is a busy light. Also, dumping out a Coke can on the grass has not been considered "cool" for several years now.


So, on Saturday, I rode two buses I had never ridden before, routes 220 and 72. I told this to one of my friends, and he said "I didn't know that kind of bus existed anymore." I said, "What kind of bus?" and he said "The kind you've never ridden before." I admit that the number of UTA routes I haven't ridden is dwindling, but I just never had occasion to go all the way down Highland Drive on a Saturday before.


On Saturday, while I was riding the 811, there was a couple having an argument in Sign Language. It was soooo hard not to stare. I love watching people sign because their faces and bodies are so expressive. The argument was apparently quite heated when it started; fortunately, however, the 811 takes forever to get anywhere, so by the time we got to Orem they had apparently resolved their differences. Just another of the many experiences you will never have driving to Salt Lake by yourself.

Monday, March 8, 2010


Dear stupid Provo driver:
Hopefully you know that, when you approach a red light, you should stop short of the white line that indicates the start of the crosswalk. I understand that sometimes you have to slam on the brakes, etc., and I'm okay with your being a little bit in front of the line. It's not until you cross the OTHER white line on the far side of the crosswalk that I begin to not like you, because you are now completely blocking my only legal pathway across 500 North. Back up.


UTA has announced that starting in mid-April, the 831 Southbound will run a few minutes earlier in the mornings. This means that it will arrive at the Wilkinson Center at 20 and 50 after the hour instead of 27 and 57. All I can say is, "FINALLY!"