Thursday, September 22, 2011

THE 811: THREE FOR THE PRICE OF ONE

The 811 is one bus. But it really should be three.

If you were to take a look at the 811 route map (not that I'm hinting that you should, or anything), you would notice that it goes through downtown Provo and Orem, gets on the freeway, goes through American Fork and Lehi, gets on the freeway, then goes down twenty-three blocks of State Street before finally, gasping from exertion, crawling into the Sandy TRAX Station. It's a long old ride.

I've always thought that the 811 should be three different routes. The Provo/Orem one, the AF/Lehi one, and the Sandy/Draper one.

The fact that this map has insets in its insets should tell you something

Last month, UTA started running the 201 all the way down State, duplicating all of the 811 stops in Sandy and Draper. This could not have been more timely. It's somewhat disheartening to realize that, as the crowded bus you're on gets off the freeway, you still have twenty-three more blocks to go, and that your bus will get more and more crowded as you get closer to your destination. You just hope everyone is wearing deodorant.

This month, UTA announced that they will be having public hearings about shortening the 811. They want to take off the Sandy/Draper part, meaning that it will just get on the freeway after leaving the Sandy TRAX Station. This could save YEARS in lost productivity for those of us trying to commute across county lines. The 201 would still cover that section of State Street, so those people aren't out on a limb. It would be more inconvenient for people who catch the bus on State to go down to Utah County, though. They would have to catch the 201 NORTH to the TRAX station to get on the 811 and go SOUTH. Booger.

Also, they want to end the 811 at University Mall, so that it won't go down to Provo anymore. I must admit that not very many people ride the 811 past the Mall in the mornings when I'm on it. But a decent number do. Those who are heading to BYU, of course, can't take the 811 anyway, since it doesn't stop there. My worry there is that the 811 runs earlier than any of the other buses that cover University Avenue in Provo. I used to catch the bus at 4:30 in the morning up to the gym sometimes. That was a discretionary trip, but some people are trying to get to work then. The 830 and 831 don't run until 6:00 a.m. Is something going to be done about that? Is it even necessary to do something?

I'm hoping these changes would happen to increase the frequency and reliability of the 811: right now it only comes once an hour in the middle of the day, and boy howdy is it crowded. It is also often late. Maybe if the route were shorter, they could run more trips than they currently do. Or maybe they're just cutting service to try to save money.

In any case, I hope I can go to the public hearing about this one. It should be quite lively.

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