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.