Saturday, June 30, 2012

THE CURSE OF THE RECLINING SEATS

I have it.

I like MCI's.  I do.  They are very nice.  They give you the internet.  They ride so smooth over all the bumps caused by freeway construction.  They have reclining seats.

It's just that, whenever I sit on an MCI, and it doesn't matter where, the person in front of me is always the only person I can see who suddenly decides to recline their seat.  And they never check to see if it's okay first.

Since I have recently been in the habit of not regularly going to Provo, I have gotten out of practice at figuring out when the person in front of me is going to suddenly recline their seat.  In fairness, though, the last two times have been rather difficult cases.

Taking the 801 down to Provo this week: I take a seat with no one in front of it.  I settle down and begin reading my long book.  A couple of stops later, dude gets on, chatting on cell phone.  Sits down and immediately, almost in the same motion, reclines the seat all the way back.  BAM! WHAM! Crunched knees.

Taking the 801 back to Salt Lake the next day: I take a seat behind a woman who is sitting in the aisle seat with a pile of stuff on the window seat.  I figure the pile of stuff will not need a reclined seat, so I am safe.  Nope.  She was actually saving the seat for someone else, who, when she got on, also immediately reclined the seat backward onto my -- BAM! WHAM! -- crunched knees.

The next time you take a seat on an MCI and recline the seat back and someone behind you shouts

OI! WOULD IT KILL YOU TO CHECK FIRST?

it's not because I hate you.  I just wish you would check first so I could get out of the way.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

TRAV'LIN DOWN TO PROVO

Yesterday I went down to Provo.  See, one of my friends was leaving forever, and when one of your friends is leaving forever, you can't just NOT travel down to Provo . . .

I normally don't not travel down to Provo, because when school is in session I travel down there several times a week.   But school is not currently in session, so I have been not traveling down to Provo most of the time this summer.

(Those of you who know what time I went to bed last night are currently nodding knowingly)

However, as you all probably know by now, I will soon begin not traveling to Provo on a more or less permanent basis.  Unless I want to, of course.  But I may never travel to Provo again after I graduate if I keep getting welcomes like the one I got yesterday.

The 801 was late, because we hit stop-and-go at about 1300 South and were unable to travel unfettered by traffic thereafter.  We got stopped near 106th.  We got stopped just before University Parkway.  I could have told you that that would happen without even getting on the freeway.  Someday, I will watch it happen from the inside of a FrontRunner train, and my maniacal laughter will greatly alarm those in my immediate vicinity.  You've been warned.

Because the 801 was late, I missed the 833, which was supposed to take me to where I was actually going.  Not feeling like waiting another forty-five minutes, I began walking the 12 blocks the 833 would have taken me.  Until I got to the intersection of University Avenue and 100 South.  There was what appeared to be a lunchbox that had fallen out of someone's truck in the middle of the road.  And what appeared to be about six police cars.  As I approached the crossing, a policeman shouted at me:

YOU CAN'T CROSS HERE!  WE DON'T KNOW WHAT THAT IS!

which might have been a valid concern if we had been anywhere else.  Anywhere.  But not Provo.  I felt like shouting back

I HATE PROVO
I HATE IT
I HATE IT

but I bit my tongue.  I crossed the street three times instead of one.  I continued on my way, despite the fact that the sidewalk was torn up a few hundred feet further down the road, so I had to cross the street two more extra times, then walk 12 blocks.  I was rather cross by the time I arrived at my friend's house.  Fortunately, circumstances such as this lead me to often be grumpy by the time I get to my destination, so all my friends are used to it.  I judge my continued ability to function in polite society by the fact that my friends keep inviting me places.

This morning, I scoured several news outlets trying to find mention of the horrible bomb scare in downtown Provo.  KSL didn't have it.  Deseret News didn't have it.  I finally found a short article about it in the Daily Herald, which stated that -- gasp -- the questionable lunchbox did not contain a bomb.  Again, I could have told you that before I left home yesterday.  Not that anyone was asking.

This experience has provided me with a clarity I did not expect about my ambivalent feelings toward Provo.  I have many genuine, good, dear friends in Provo, to whom I owe very much.  This includes college students as well as longtime residents of Provo.  I had many good experiences there.  But Provo is full of busybodies.

Monday, June 25, 2012

MY FELLOW SLCOREPUBLICANS

My fellow Salt Lake County Republicans:

Please vote in the primary tomorrow.  You can find out where to vote here.

I am a big advocate of voting in general.  I feel like if you don't vote, you don't get to complain about the government for the next four years.  If you can't drag your gut to a polling place every once in a while, you probably don't care much about what happens to your city/state/nation.  That's my opinion.

Specifically, I would like to encourage all of you to vote tomorrow so you can vote against Mike Winder.  Don't get me wrong; I'm sure he's a nice person once you get to know him.  He's certainly very enthusiastic.  He's probably more pro-transit than Crockett.  It may surprise you to learn that other things might influence my vote in an election than the candidates' opinions of transit.

Like the fact that Winder wrote fabricated letters to local newspapers using another man's identity, in order to talk up the things he was doing in West Valley City.  Sorry.  I just can't get past that.

www.nytimes.com
Or the sheer power-hungriness he exhibited at the county convention--walking on the stage with dozens of members of his extended family, with Van Halen playing in the background, texting us in the middle of the voting to remind us that his booth had refreshing bottled water, trying to whip up the crowd into a frenzy long after his time had run out and almost having to be escorted off the stage.  Don't be fooled by the fact that there's a primary. Winder baaaaaaaaaaarely squeaked over the line at the convention, even after all the wooing we'd been subjected to for months.  Who knows what stunts he would try to pull as county mayor in order to further his career and polish his image?  I'd rather not.

By contrast, Crockett seems quite vanilla.  His county mayorship would likely be business as usual.  That has its good and bad parts, but I'll take business as usual over crazy stunts.  And anyway, Crockett was criticized in other candidates' literature for supporting tax increases to fund TRAX.  Needless to say, those candidates lost my vote, and are not in the primary.  I feel okay about Crockett.  I'm really uneasy with Winder.

Someone from his campaign is probably going to find this blog post tonight and write me a comment that says "How do you do, sorry you feel that way, what can we do to change your mind before tomorrow?"  I appreciate the sentiment, but don't bother.  I plan on exercising my voting privileges tomorrow as I see fit, and as I see that our county will best be served.  My opinion is that we'll be better served if Winder is not in county office.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

DEAR STUPID PROVO DRIVER (44)

Dear stupid Provo Driver:

I hate mall parking lots just as much as you do.  Unless you're a mall-parking-lot masochist . . .

As we were driving out of the mall parking lot, we saw a car pulled out halfway into the aisle.  We assumed it was pulling out into the aisle, and politely waited for it to do so.  Because we're nice.

But then the car didn't move, and it didn't move, and it didn't move.  We edged a little closer and finally saw that

THE CAR WAS EMPTY

You had PARKED your car halfway out into the aisle.  Are you trying to get insurance money from it, or what?  'Cause you just might.

Regards,
BUSNINJA

Thursday, June 21, 2012

MAKING FRIENDS

Sometimes, in the normal course of events, trains and buses aren't friends.  Sometimes the Red Line is late enough that you miss the 39 Eastbound.  And then the next one doesn't show up (happily, the next one is right on time).  And you end up waiting 28 minutes for a bus that ostensibly comes every 15.

What could you do to pass the time?  Well, if, unlike me, you don't have a 1,400-page history book to read, you could try making some friends.  This often happens when transit is delayed for one reason or another.  However, if you are the kind of person who gets a kick out of annoying others, let me suggest the following course of action:

1.  Complain loudly and frequently about how the bus is late.  In case the people around you don't know, or have forgotten in the last two minutes, that the bus is late.

2.  Swear often.  Try to fit "f***" and "s***" into every sentence, if possible.

3.  Even when the people around you are actively ignoring you, try to engage them in conversation multiple times.

4.  Make complaints that aren't true.  Strive to make them true by repeating them every time someone new comes.

If you do these things, not only will you achieve your goal of annoying others, you will definitely make the bus come faster.  I'm sure of it.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

I'VE FIGURED IT OUT

When the Red and Green lines opened






last year, the announced addresses of some of the TRAX stations changed (from 4500 to 4400 South, or from 10000 to 9800 South, for example).  The signs on the front of the buses, however, did not change.  They still said things like "To 4500 S TRAX" or "To 10000 TRAX."  I, as I always do, and always will, registered the inconsistency and went on with my life.

But then, the other day, I figured it out.  It all makes sense now!


There are two different stations right next to each other.  I don't know why I didn't see it before . . .

Monday, June 18, 2012

DEAR STUPID PROVO DRIVER (43)

Editor's note: Although "dear stupid Provo driver" has in the past been one of the more beloved segments of this blog, it has been suspended for the last few months due to the blog author's having moved to Salt Lake City.  Although stupid drivers abound in Salt Lake, just as they do in Provo, the busninja was unsure whether to start writing letters to "dear stupid Salt Lake driver," or whether the letters should continue the original numbering, or start over; and so the letters, as well as the occasions that inspired them, lay fallow in his brain for an until recently indeterminate time.  However, this morning, an incident occurred that was simply too stupid not to complain about, and a unilateral decision was made to reinstate "dear stupid Provo driver," even though the incident in question occurred within Salt Lake County.  The use of the word "Provo" was retained due to the busninja's respectable distaste for that city, and in light of the fact that it cannot be proven that the stupid driver in question, or any stupid driver, is not from Provo from a streetside sighting alone.  We hope you enjoy the return of the busninja's signature snarky letters to stupid drivers everywhere.

Dear stupid Provo driver:

In this country we drive on the right.  Going both directions.  That means that cars that are going the opposite direction from you look to you as though they were on the left side of the street.  If you're having trouble with right and left, let me suggest that you go back to elementary school for a few days.  And I'd definitely suggest you give up your driver's license for an indefinite period of time.

It is true that in some places, when you want to turn left, there is a turning lane in the middle of the road.  You get a few consolation points for remembering, unlike other stupid Provo drivers, that a two-way left-turn lane is not a lane of traffic.  But by the same token, neither is a lane of traffic a two-way left-turn lane.  When there is not a two-way left-turn lane, you cannot pull into the opposite lane to execute your left turn.  Well, I guess you can, as you obviously proved this morning, but I'd advise against it.  If you're not sure why, see the suggestion at the end of the previous paragraph.

This would have been bad enough had no other cars been on the road at the same time as you.  Unfortunately for him or her, someone else happened to be going the opposite way from you as you moved into their lane to turn left.  They had to slam on their brakes to avoid running head-on into you, this sudden car appearing right in their path even though they were doing nothing wrong.  While this caused me no end of amusement on my way to the bus stop this morning, it probably traumatized this innocent law-abiding driver to no end.  How could you do that to them?

In closing, may I add that, however stupidly you turn left, you should also USE YOUR BLINKER.  That is, if you ever drive again.  Which I'd recommend against.

Regards,
BUSNINJA

Friday, June 15, 2012

BUS PANTS

commutergirl told me to do a post about Sheldon's bus pants.  The following should suffice to educate the uninitiate:

http://youtu.be/Ak9Z1Iz7T-o

(Sorry, embedding was disabled for this clip, and this is definitely the best clip on YouTube of the situation I am trying to portray.  Click on it.)

 Now, I do not mean to imply with this video that anyone of necessity should wear bus pants when riding the bus--buses are, in general, quite clean around here.  Nor do I mean, necessarily, that the only reason one should avail oneself of public transportation is that one is completely without recourse, or that one has offended all one's friends to the point that they are no longer willing to provide transportation (for me, part of the whole point was not relying on others for my transportation).

"Incidentally, one can get beat up in school simply by referring to oneself as 'one.'"


Nevertheless, there are days when a good pair of bus pants would certainly come in handy . . .


Wednesday, June 13, 2012

ME AS A TEENAGER

The other day on the train, I sat down next to a group of teenagers, and I'm pretty sure one of them was actually me.

The evidence?

Teen 1: Yeah, I already got some information.
Teen 2: About who?
Teen 3: About WHOM?

(later)

Teen 1 or 2:  We will, as soon as we get off this trolley or whatever it is.
Teen 3: Dude, it's called light rail.

You decide.  But seriously, the last time I met a teenager this anal-retentive, it was me.

Monday, June 11, 2012

ANTS

I sometimes leave my house at 6:55, or 7:01, or 7:11, or 7:16, or 7:26, or 7:31, depending on when I have to be to work, and on what mode of transit I have decided to convey myself thence.

When I leave my house at 7:26 or 7:31, I often run across a phenomenon that I don't encounter at other times of the day: large groups of ants milling about.  I don't see any particularly tantalizing food items on the street near the crowds of ants, nor any signs of recent upheaval near the entrances to their underground homes.  It just seems like they like being outside around 7:30 a.m.  Who am I to judge?

I generally try not to step on the ants as I walk past them.  This is generally rather easily accomplished.  However, the other morning I happened upon what I'm pretty sure was the Salt Lake County Republican Ant Convention.  It stretched from the street corner well onto the sidewalk and spilled out onto the ground on either side.  I did my best not to step on any deleg-ants, but I can't make any promises.

Anyone who has a biologically sound explanation for the ants' matutine behavior in my area is welcome to volunteer it.

Saturday, June 9, 2012

A SENSIBLE IDEA

You all may or may not know that UTA has two bus garages in Salt Lake County: Central and Meadowbrook.  Now you all know.  There is also a garage in Ogden and one in Orem (called "Timpanogos").

Central and Meadowbrook have different kinds of buses and, until recently, ran completely separate routes.  Someone as nerdy smart as I am, when waiting for a bus in the greater Salt Lake area, would know more or less what types of bus to expect to see, based on which garage the route in question was being run out of.  Such people would generally be possessed of the serenity which is born of predictability.

Always having certain routes come out of certain garages did lead to a certain amount of inefficiency.  I'm not even going to try to describe the situation without a picture.  Observe:


As you can see, a lot of trouble, not to mention a decent amount of gas, could be saved by simply having the 200 come out of Central and the 320 out of Meadowbrook.  I was talking to a bus driver one day who told me he worked a split shift, and that for both halves of his shift he started out at Meadowbrook and drove to Central Station (across the street from the Central Garage).  I guess it's not surprising that this bright idea occurred to UTA independently of me.

The first day after the most recent change day, I was startled to see that the 200 coming to pick me up was a bus I had previously associated with Central.  I got on it, and it still went to all the same places, so I hadn't completely missed the boat.  Over the next few days, I saw lots of other "mixtures" between Central and Meadowbrook routes, and I eventually put the pieces together.

It's a sensible idea, even if it does mean that the writing is sometimes the wrong color.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

THE MANY FACES OF GILLIG

Some of you may have been wondering what I meant in the last post about the writing being the wrong color (if you don't know what that means, you can always click on the link and read the post, hint, hint . . .)

So, I set about trying to find pictures of the different colored writings on UTA buses.  I found some really good pictures apparently taken by Polish people.  What a world, what a world.

They asked not to use their pictures without permission, and I try to be nice about such things, so I won't show the pictures here.  But here are a few links:

'99 Gillig with green writing:  http://www.phototrans.eu/14,531238,0.html

'01 Gillig with "incandescent" writing:  http://www.phototrans.eu/14,529338,0.html

'06/'07 Gillig with "incandescent" writing:  http://www.phototrans.eu/14,529988,0.html

'09/'10/'12 Gillig with blue writing:  http://www.phototrans.eu/14,531035,0,Gillig_BRT_LF_40__09002.html

'09/'10 Gillig with green writing:  http://www.phototrans.eu/14,538515,0,Gillig_BRT_LF_40__09034.html

I must say, whoever took those pictures got around.  That must have taken a lot of work.  And good pictures, too.  If you're feeling really ambitious, you can paste the picture captions into Google Translate and read some Polish commentary on American transit.  So maybe I did.  So sue me.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

THE WRITING WAS THE WRONG COLOR

The other day I was waiting for the 205 at 400 South, 500 East, for reasons that are entirely my own.

As I was waiting, a Coca-Cola truck pulled up and parked next to a convenience store, almost, but not quite, covering up the bus stop, but completely blocking my view of oncoming traffic.

Although I did not know exactly at what time the 205 would arrive, my mysterious sense of when the bus comes told me that it would be soon.

(No, seriously, though, I can tell when the bus is about to come.  I was trying to get from Rose Park to downtown one day, and having seen both the 519 and 520 pass me by as I was walking to the bus stop, I decided to idly saunter down the route until I could suddenly tell the 519 was about to come and I should stop walking at the next stop.  Sure enough, the 519 came around the corner less than two minutes later.  Marveling at my newfound power, I enjoyed a pleasant ride through the entire neighborhood, going the wrong way, and ended up in downtown 45 minutes later, which wasn't an issue, since I wasn't really in a hurry.  But really, mysterious sense.)

My sense of when the bus was going to come was accurate, but my sense of what type of bus to look for has been horribly thrown off lately by the fact that different buses have been coming out of different garages lately (I promise I will explain this later; probably tomorrow, since I've now placed the burning question in your minds).  When the bus came, the writing on the front was the wrong color.  I was expecting the blue writing on the front screen from an '09 or a '10 or a '12, but instead I got an '07, which has "incandescent" colored writing on the front.  I almost didn't recognize it until it was too late.  I almost didn't stand up in time.  The bus driver almost didn't see me.

Because of the combination of my standing up quickly and his hurried braking to a stop, I like to think that a moment of understanding passed between the driver and I as I got on the bus.  He certainly didn't act cross with me for not being readily visible.  Nor was I particularly cross with me for not having seen me from a distance.  We both did the best we could under the circumstances.  And anyway, the writing was the wrong color.

Monday, June 4, 2012

Saturday, June 2, 2012

HATERS GONNA HATE

I really should find this kind of thing sooner.

I was dinking around on the internet yesterday and I found this blog post from last year.  I'd like to share a couple of quotes from it:

" . . . residents take great advantage of the system; despite ranking No. 43 in terms of population, the city was No. 18 in terms of passenger miles traveled in 2008."

And:

  " While detractors continue to mourn the 'misuse' of funds to 'subsidize' transit, the fact is this type of investment by UTA and state and federal agencies is spurring private development investment all along the ever-expanding transit system, from Ogden to Provo."

Haters gonna hate.  But transit around here is only going to get better.  And the better it gets, the less people are going to hate it, and the more people are going to . . . just take it.

Stick around, you'll see what I mean.