Wednesday, August 1, 2012

THE BIG DAY--A FEW THOUGHTS

I wish I were writing a post about today being the Big Day, but, unfortunately, the big day is still 131 days away.  Actually, I don't wish today were the Big Day, because, as good as the big day is going to be, it is also going to come at the very end of my last semester of grad school, which I don't need to describe in detail to you for you to understand that I need the next 131 days to emotionally prepare myself for it.


I'm conflicted
By the Big Day, of course, I mean December 10, 2012, when FrontRunner to Provo will begin service.  An alert reader advised me that the changes were up on rideuta.com, so naturally I had to spend the next four hours or so checking them out.  I have a few thoughts to offer right now; I'm sure I will have more later.

1.  No route in Utah County is the same.  Not a one.  This is to be expected; if FrontRunner were to open without any changes to the bus routes, a total of . . . zero routes would connect to it in Provo and Orem.  But these changes are more than just little diversions off the main roads to pull into FrontRunner stations.  Whole areas of the county have been rethought.  The express trips to Salt Lake are gone, of course, with vestigial 805, 806, and 807 connecting to FrontRunner instead of downtown.  A few areas that used to get service and then had it cut seem to be getting it back.  BYU and the Transit Center are not nearly as busy without the expresses, and with fewer local routes beginning and ending there (a current problem at the Transit Center).  We saw this coming for BYU.  I don't think I need to beat that dead horse anymore.

2.  The future Green Line.  Route 550 is going to be TRAX for a few months until the Airport line is done.  It's going to run every fifteen minutes, and stop on North Temple near the TRAX stations.  Trains hold a lot more than buses.  I wonder if this bus is suddenly going to become very full at certain times of day.  In my experience, the 517 and the 218 are the two buses that clear out the most people when they pull through Central; both of them let lots of people off on North Temple.  I'll be curious to see how it works out.  And very happy, of course, when the Airport line actually opens.  Huzzah!

3.  Rose Park v2.0.  When you put the 506, 510, and 512 on a piece of paper together, they look quite nice; it really is quite an elegant solution to the problem of how to distribute people to TRAX and to downtown at the same time from this area.  (I may put the picture up in another post.)  I figured things were going to change in this neck of the woods when TRAX opened.  If you have ever ridden the 519 or the 520 the wrong way (especially if it wasn't on purpose!), you know how long it can take to get in and out of this neighborhood.  It's amazing what you can come up with when you don't have to spend, like, 15 minutes out of every trip just looping through downtown.

4.  Go to a public hearing.  If you have thoughts or suggestions about the many changes that are happening in conjunction with the Big Day, GO TO A PUBLIC HEARING.  There are two in Salt Lake and three in Utah County.  As one who has been to many, many UTA public hearings, I can tell you that it's worth your time to go.  If you don't understand something, you can ask questions about it.  If you don't like something, you can put it on the official record.  If enough people want something to change, it will change.  But it won't change if you don't go.  I'm going to try to at least hit one of the Utah County hearings, so if you see me, say hi!

9 comments:

  1. Definatly spent more time than needed looking at all the maps yesterday. It's fun to see the progress on the North Temple FrontRunner transfer station. Coming from FrontRunner North there looks like some good connections like 6, 500, and 209. Route 534 will probably get a lot of comments. I wonder what will be the fastest way from BYU to FrontRunner.

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    1. Oh, 347. Your life has been so uniquely prolonged above all the other fast buses on the west side, but your time keeps trying to come. Perhaps it will succeed this time.

      My guess is the 830 will be the fastest way to BYU, if not because it takes less time, because it comes every fifteen minutes. But, of course, I'll be interested in trying out all the possibilities!

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  2. I have a nasty habit of looking at change day documents late at night. Here are my few (well, many) thoughts (and yes, I am using em dashes as bullets):

    — I like the 3's new alignment through the Avenues. Provides service where it was missing, and gets rid of redundant service on South Temple. Too bad the 6 loses its Sunday service, though.
    — The 209! The northern terminus will once again be at a FrontRunner station. Woo hoo. That's my route. And it'll even run every thirty minutes weekday nights. The 209 will have the best night service in the system, with the exception of the 470.
    — Central Station is becoming less important. Not sure what to think about that.
    — The new alignment for the 218 is awful. It won't be so bad once the Green Line extension to the airport opens. But until then, passengers headed toward the center of downtown will first have to transfer to the 550, and then once more at Central Station to a bus route or TRAX. At least once the Green Line opens through there that'll take them straight to downtown.
    — I agree with the above poster. Considering all the hubbub that was raised after they started running Gillig BRTs on the 347 (as opposed to the MCIs), there may or may not be blood on the streets when 347ers realize their route is being replaced by a FrontRunner connector. The UTA should at least run the 534 a little more often than three times per rush hour.
    — The Provo Temple and the MTC will be served by a more frequent route, which is nice.
    — Looks like night service on every Utah County route but the 830 is being reduced. Bummer.
    — I was initially slightly saddened to see the 811 truncated to UVU, but then I realized no one rode it all the way to BYU anyway.
    — There are two routes that serve Riverwoods. Okay.
    — The 853 runs pretty darn often. Like, wow.

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    1. It's ok--I use blog posts for bullet points.

      I like the 209, too. It's pretty much the perfect route now except for not connecting to FrontRunner, so after this change it will be completely perfect.

      I can see why Central might need a few routes taken off it. It's so crowded during the peak now; sometimes four routes are scheduled to leave at the same minute, and I don't need to dwell on how that turns out . . . I think it will work out okay to have some routes go to North Temple, but I will have to learn all over again how to transfer from what to which in downtown. Not that I mind.

      As I mentioned before, I think we're going to get a very crowded 550 with the 218 and 517 spilling out into it. I think people might just have to tough it out until TRAX opens. On the other hand, not having to fight all the way down Redwood, then down North Temple, may help the 218 be more on time. Since I only take it south of 3500 South, I'd certainly enjoy better reliability. I just hope there's somewhere covered to wait to make the transfer to the 550.

      I think most of the night service cuts, as well as the route consolidations, in Utah County are because of BYU. As someone who has taken the last 830, the last 831, the last 832, the last 833, and the last 822 of the night coming home from BYU, I can attest that most of the late night traffic in Provo was students. If the BYU students aren't there anymore, it makes sense to cut the service. The 9:36 p.m. trip on the 850 usually had decent numbers of people at the Transit Center, but pretty much all of them have gotten off by the end of Orem. Maybe it's not worth it to run that whole trip up to Lehi, either. I'm speculating some here. But those are my thoughts.

      It's 11 p.m., and that's late for me. :) More pontifications later.

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    2. I also wonder if night service in Salt Lake County will actually improve. Check this nebulous statement from the UTA out: Additional time changes and service hour changes will be made to improve reliability and connectivity at major transfer locations in Salt Lake City and Salt Lake County.

      Oooooooh. . . Does that mean that night service will see an improvement? Not just on the 209, but on other routes? I guess we'll find out when the final schedules are released in November.

      I suppose I'll go to one of those public hearings. Never been to one. Should be a good experience.

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    3. There was an article in the Tribune earlier this year that was equally nebulous and equally tantalizing. Honestly, I don't see how service hour changes could IMPROVE connectivity unless they were increases. I know it has to happen someday. But I hope it happens sooner rather than later.

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  3. Oh, and I have some more thoughts on the 550. . . but it's 2 am. Maybe later.

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  4. Hey. One more thing I just barely noticed. The 830 is losing its fifteen-minute service mid-day. That leaves Utah County with a total of zero fifteen-minute routes.

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    1. I did read that -- I figured it just meant the same thing as the 830 does now, which is running every 15 minutes until 6:00 p.m. and then every 30 minutes until 11:00 p.m. It never does go down to 60-minute service--even Saturdays are every 30 minutes until the end of the night. I sure hope the 830 doesn't go down to 30-minute headways during the day--the afternoon peak on the 830 southbound starts at, oh, 11:30 a.m. Even without FrontRunner, if the service were 30 minutes in the early afternoon, we'd be looking at some pretty slammed 830s. I'll have to ask around at the public hearings.

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