Saturday, September 29, 2012


A lot has changed at BYU since 2003.

Fall 2003 was my first semester at BYU.  I know.  I'm old.  I swear I'm on my way out.

In Fall 2003, BYU handed out free UTA bus passes to anyone with an ID card.  The buses were always packed near BYU.  The 830 ran every 15 minutes; it ran full every 15 minutes.  UTA had to put two buses at once on the 822, 830, and 833, at least, at certain times of day to handle the sheer numbers of screaming college students getting on the bus.

Then, as you all probably already know, parking passes became free and bus passes began to cost.  It wasn't much; the cost of a subsidized bus pass topped out at $120/year, which was still an enormous savings.  Then, last year, BYU substantively stopped subsidizing the passes and ridership absolutely flatlined on the 831, 832, and 833 around campus.  As I thought it would.

Then, this week, I saw an article tagline in the [Weekly] Universe, BYU's student newspaper, that interested me.  I don't read the [Weekly] Universe anymore, out of principle, since it stopped being the Daily Universe.  But when I saw an article called "BYU Students Without Cars Find Other Ways to Get Around" (with the tagline on the front page: "There are plenty of alternatives") I decided to pick one up and see what there was to say about carless travel in Provo.

I was sorely disappointed.

The only "alternatives" it mentioned to driving your own car were walking and bumming rides.

Not a word about taking public transportation.  Not a single word.  Not UTA, not BYU's student shuttle, not even the four rental cars on campus that BYU implied would take the place of subsidized bus passes.  Not even bikes!

This article shows at best a complete lack of subject knowledge or research, probably due to being composed minutes before its deadline, and at worst a callous disregard for anything that isn't a car, with the clear message that if you don't have a car of your very own to drive absolutely everywhere, you're a second-class citizen.  It's probably closer to the first, but the fact is, this got published and people read it.  It should never have been published.

The last sentence of the article is a quote from a BYU student: "If my friends can't let me borrow their car, I can't go anywhere."


You can go anywhere you want in Provo without a car! (And even that's getting better in December.)  I've done it for six years now.  I've gone to work, gone shopping, gone on dates, gone home to visit my parents, gone to church, gone up to Salt Lake periodically just to clear my head for SIX YEARS now without a car.  I've walked faster than traffic after BYU football games.  I've gotten on a bus and arrived at the Wilk well before my friends who drove and left at the same time because they were looking for parking and I wasn't.  I've gone to General Conference without endlessly wandering through a parking garage beforehand and sitting in it for over an hour afterward.  I've never had a car of my very own, but I've done just fine.  And there are people sitting around in Provo moping that they can't do anything because they don't have a car of their own.

Shame on the person who wrote this.  Shame on the Universe for publishing it.  And shame on everyone who read it and believed it.

In two-and-a-half months, FrontRunner to Provo will open.  I will ride it joyfully every time I come to Provo.  The rest of you can sit in your smog.

Monday, September 24, 2012


Recently I was at UVU long enough to take some pictures of the pedestrian tunnel. And I walked through it, too. It was so weird to realize I was on the other side of University Parkway. I did it several times.  I still couldn't get over it.  Anyway, here's the tunnel.

I'm standing at the bus stop.

Tunnel under the Parkway

Tunnel under College Drive.

The northbound bus stop is right around this corner!

If you get the chance, you should totally walk back and forth through the tunnel several times.  I enjoyed it . . .

Thursday, September 20, 2012


Last week:

Bustled out the door at 5:50 a.m. to catch the bus to the train to the bus to class.  Class begins at 7:30.  Bus is due at 7:32.  Bus arrives at 7:28.  I enter the classroom, panting, at 7:30 on the dot.  Teacher is not there.  Someone finds email saying, "Hi! I'm not going to be there!  Take this open-book quiz!"  Teacher shows up half-hour late.  I begin to question ever attending this class again.

This week:

Bustled out the door at 5:50 a.m. to catch the bus to the train to the bus to class.  Class begins at 7:30.  Bus is due at 7:32.  Bus arrives at 7:37.  I enter the classroom, panting, at 7:39.  Teacher is not only there, but has already handed out the quiz and is collecting it.


Saturday, September 15, 2012


As you may know, commutergirl and I have a garden.

We also have a lot of zucchini.  I know, I know, we had it coming, planting TWO whole zucchini plants . . .

We've put the zucchini into bread, soup, and other dishes.  We've fried sliced zucchini as a side for dinner.  We've doorbell ditched people we know zucchini.  It still persists.

But now we've figured out something we can do with all the rest of our zucchini that are still sitting around.

We can cut it into four-inch pieces and chuck them at people who cross the tracks in the middle of the platform at City Center.

We have enough zucchini to do this for quite a while.  You've all been warned.

Thursday, September 13, 2012


Autumn is definitely on its way in.

Yesterday was the first day that I actually felt cold walking to the bus.  Today I also felt cold walking to the bus.  Especially wearing shorts.  Very cold on my legs.

Granted, it was quarter-to-six in the morning.

But even at that time of day it wasn't cold until yesterday.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012


Eleven years ago today, I sat in A. P. History class, when the teacher announced that the Twin Towers had been attacked.  I remember feeling shock, a loss.  I lived in Utah, about as far away from New York as you can get, both physically and culturally.  I didn't know any of these people, but I felt them, even from far away.  It was difficult to concentrate on anything that day.  I remember teachers abandoning their lesson plans, letting us listen to the radio during class, or telling us about the Kennedy assassination--another day when the whole nation's consciousness was wrenched together by tragedy.  I have heard that 9/11 and the Kennedy assassination are similar, in that everyone remembers exactly what they were doing when they heard the news.

I remember President Bush asking everyone to pray for those affected--I liked that.

I remember American flags popping up everywhere: in newspapers, magazines, storefronts, websites, homes, offices.

I remember all the patriotism everyone showed; how, for a while, it was good to be patriotic again.  I remember policemen and firefighters marching in our small, homespun parade and getting wild cheers and applause, because of the examples of bravery their counterparts had shown in the rescue efforts following the attacks.

Eleven years later, America is still a great place to live.  I hope we all remember this.

I know I said "moment of silence," and here I am, sharing a video.  Keep in mind that whenever there is silence around me, there is still music rushing through my brain at a frenetic rate.  This video is probably the best summary of how I felt, and feel about September 11, 2001.  It pairs footage from ABC's "Report from Ground Zero" with footage of Leonard Slatkin conducting the BBC Philharmonic Orchestra in one of the world's best elegiac melodies ever written--the abstrusely titled "Adagio for Strings" by American composer Samuel Barber.  This performance of the Adagio was given on September 15, 2001, when the world was still reeling from the pain of a fresh wound.  You might need a moment of silence after you watch it.

Monday, September 10, 2012


So, I actually walked through the pedestrian tunnel today.  I didn't have time to take any pictures, though, because I was literally getting off a bus on one side and getting on another on the other.

Last time I took the 811 down to Provo at this time, the bus was late, and the 831 had already left UVU.  This time, however, it was right on time, and I thought, if I hurry, I can just make it . . .

So I took the 831 from UVU to BYU today.  It was fuller than I remember it being at 2:30 in the past.  This is probably from UVU, and due to the fact that the 811 doesn't cover the same stops on University Avenue anymore.  A bunch of people got on at UVU, and proceeded to get off at a rate of one every few stops.  But then nobody got on going to BYU.  I mean nobody.  When we got to BYU, I was the only one to get off, and nobody got on.  Had there been cheap BYU passes involved, I think the bus would have been quite full.  At 2:30 p.m.! (a.k.a. not rush hour).  The 830 and 811 Northbound at UVU were certainly packed.  Oh, BYU, BYU . . .

I had forgotten how pretty the 831 route is.  It was quite relaxing, really.  I may have to do this again this semester.  I'm going to need a basis for comparison between this 831 and the new version coming in December, of course.

Thursday, September 6, 2012


The pedestrian tunnel is open!


The one at UVU!  At least, the part of it that goes under College Drive is open.  I know that much, because when everybody got off the bus today, they went through it.  But it looks like the other part is open, too.

This is a big deal (as I've mentioned before)--it means you no longer have to cross University Parkway to get places from the UVU bus stop.  Up to this point, the pedestrian environment at University Pkwy. and Sandhill Rd. has been quite inhospitable, and the addition of a sort-of continuous flow intersection doesn't help (CFI's are pretty good for cars, as far as I can tell, and have studied; they are a chore-and-a-half to cross on foot).  It also looks like you can enter 1200 South now from the west side of campus, which you couldn't before; among other things, this means that a bus could come from the west side of campus and stop near the roundabout without looping all the freaking way through campus, like the 862 does now, and the 831 is proposed to in December.

I doubt I'll have time to experience the pedestrian tunnel anytime soon, but if you're in the area, try it out.  Enjoy the feeling of not having to wait for cars!

Tuesday, September 4, 2012


Last December, something rather odd happened.

The 811, which has, for years, gone down State Street between 12300 South and the Sandy Civic Center TRAX Station at 10000/9800 South, stopping all up and down the road, stopped stopping at all the stops on State Street; now it only stops at 12300 South and at the TRAX Station.  All the old stops are still there, but now the 201 stops at them instead of the 811.  Which means, in case you got lost in the middle of all those times I said "stop" (Stop!) that now the 811 goes past a lot of bus stops without stopping at them.

This doesn't always work.

The other day, someone got on the 811 at 12300 South, which was perfectly legitimate.  But then he pulled the cord to try to get off at 10200 South.  Uh-oh.  The stop at 10200 South came and went.  The concerned passenger came forward and began to remonstrate with the driver.  "I needed that stop!"  "I don't stop there."  "Yes you do, there's a sign right there."  "I don't stop at that stop."  "Did you see the sign?"

Obviously, our friend is not a regular 811 rider, for which he may be excused.  It can be very confusing to see a bus stop sign go past, then be told that the bus you're on doesn't stop there.  And it can be annoying to walk further than you originally thought you had to.

Then, two days later, I was on the 811 rather late, after the 201 had stopped running.  Someone was waiting at a 201 stop, and the driver of the 811 stopped to let them on.  Someone behind me said, rather punctiliously, "That's not an 811 stop."  I told her it was a courtesy stop, since the 201 had already stopped running, and she was placated.  Damned if you do . . .

Hopefully, next year when the Draper TRAX extension opens, the 201 and the 811 will both stop at the 12300 South station, thus eliminating the need for one route to skip all the stops that the other route stops at, with its attendant inconvenience and confusion.  We'll see.  Until then, you've all been warned--don't mix up 201 stops and 811 stops!