Saturday, October 27, 2012

PARKENRIDERS

They are an interesting lot.

Twice this week there was water of some sort falling from the sky when I went to catch the bus at 6:01 a.m.  There is no shelter on either side of the street anywhere I catch the bus near my house.  I stood out in the rain/snow like a good busninja until the bus came, which usually isn't long, because I have


EXPERT TIMING

Contrast that with the people who got on at the American Fork FrontRunner Station Park'n'Ride the same day, an hour later.  I should note that there is a decent-sized shelter there, but hardly anybody was waiting at it.  Instead, as the 817 pulled through the bus lane, a number of people were observed to jump out of their cars and dash over to the bus.  Heaven forbid they should wait in the rain.

I thought, you silly parkenriders.  I guess ninja status comes at a price.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

ANNUAL LETTER TO BYU FRESHMEN FROM WARM PLACES

Dear BYU freshmen from warm places:

Yes, it snowed today.  Allow me to gently suggest that not everyone is as excited/distraught/generally overreactive as you toward the fact that it snowed today.

No, you can't do anything about it.  If you whine and complain about it all winter, it still won't go away until it durn well pleases.  I know this comes as a shock.

Actually, you can do a few things about it:

-   Wear warm clothing.  I mean, more than a hoodie.  Wear gloves.  Don't wear shorts.
-   Wear waterproof shoes.
-   Wear shoes with actual traction on them.
-   When you're driving, brake sooner than you are used to doing.
-   If you're driving down 9th East in Provo and you see three cars that have lost control and run up onto the sidewalk, be more careful.
-   When you're driving behind someone from Utah (or somewhere else that gets cold), and they take a while to brake, don't tailgate them.  And don't honk at them.  And don't try to swerve around them.  Doing any of these things will make you Dear Stupid Provo Driver.
-   Try not to sign up for evening classes fall semester.  Evening classes fall semester just get darker and colder.  Evening classes winter semester, on the other hand, get warmer and brighter.
-   If you've been out in the cold for a while, some hot chocolate really hits the spot.  Consume in moderation.

Yes, the snow and such will be around until about next April.  No, there's not really anything you can do about that either, except maybe go home for Christmas.  Just realize that Christmas is at the beginning, not the end, of winter.

You may want to avoid complaining about winter too much in the presence of people from places like Minnesota, or Alaska.  Because they will make fun of you, and you won't know why.

*Ahem* if you don't like walking in the snow, remember, BYU has excellent bus service that nobody takes.  Buses are warm . . . you don't have to walk in the cold . . . just saying.

Oh, and keep your chin up.  Plenty of other people from warmer places have managed to survive, thrive, and even come back for more Utah winters.  You can do it!

Regards,
BUSNINJA

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

219 (UPDATE)

So today I was going past the same hotel in American Fork, and the sign now said:

TIME: 1:99 AM

Keep trying, friends; keep trying.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

SORRY LADIES

Yesterday morning, I got on the 200 to go to work, as I so often do.  Everything seemed normal as the bus pulled up and opened the door.  Until I got on and . . .

I'm pretty sure I accidentally got on the Frauenpowerbus.


Images of the Frauenpowerbahn in Schwerin, Germany.  I could not find bigger pictures.

See, usually when you get on the 200 inbound before about 7:00 a.m., you get a lot of construction workers, groundskeepers, custodians, and the like; for whatever reason, the crowd tends to be mostly male.  Except yesterday, when I got on the bus, I was the only man.  And I remained the only man on the bus for over twenty blocks.  Not that other people didn't get on after me, mind you; they were just all women.

And I was like,



SORRY LADIES


didn't mean to mess up your bus.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

WATCH THAT TOP STEP

This morning I was getting on a TRAX train at 6:12 a.m.  It was a Blue Line train.  I tripped on the top step. It was 6:12 a.m.

After steadying myself, I looked up and an older man was smiling indulgently at me.

He seemed genuinely surprised that I didn't smile back.  I guess I just wasn't feeling it.  It was 6:12 a.m.

Monday, October 15, 2012

219

The other day, as we were heading into the American Fork FrontRunner Station, I saw a sign on the hotel next to the old Park-'n'-Ride.  It was flashing

TIME 2:19

which was odd, since it was 7:00 AM.  Unless I was somehow almost five hours off . . .

Then it changed to

TEMP. 219°

and I thought, wow, a jacket was obviously overkill.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

THE BIG DAY: FEARLESS PREDICTIONS

I usually save my fearless predictions for the end of the year, but since The Big Day is happening before the end of the year, and I finished my homework at 8:00 tonight, I'm going to take the liberty of doing it now.  Since UTA released information on their final service plan for December today, I think I can do so with reasonably good authority.

As I've mentioned previously, every route in Utah County is going to change in December, and several new ones are going to pop out of the snow.  Like daisies.  That's where I'll focus my fearless predictions for now.


In the following predictions, I am going to use some very technical jargon for how full I think the bus is going to be.  Definitions follow:

  • Empty:  Nobody on the bus at all.  Or maybe one or two people, but never more than five.  Likely candidate for swift cancellation.
  • Quiet:  More than five to about half the seats full.  Meaning you don't have to share.  Not enough people on the bus for any kind of social interaction to be warranted.
  • Pleasant:  Half-full to full.  Not crowded, but you don't feel like a social outcast on an empty bus, either.  You can still find a seat, and probably have a choice of several.
  • Full:  All the seats are full; maybe a few people are standing, but not so many that it's awkward to walk around them.  But you won't get a seat if you get on too late.  The bus begins to be slowed down by the number of stops it has to make, and the number of people getting on and off.
  • Slammed:  More than 125% full (Level of Service E or F, for you nerds out there); uncomfortable to ride, well behind schedule due to sheer passenger volume.  Almost impossible to get off because you have to wade through a sea of bodies standing in front of the back door.  Likely candidate for additional service.
Like I said, very technical.  So here goes:

805.  Seeing as how this is going to be a combination of the current 805 and 808, both of which are reasonably full, this bus is going to be busy.  It's going to run more times than either bus did before, but that sometimes attracts more riders, because there are more convenient options for when to catch the bus.  There's definitely a lot of people in the south end of the county wanting to go to UVU, and I think a growing number will want to connect to FrontRunner for their northerly transportation needs.
Prediction: Pleasant, evolving to Full over the next couple of years.

806.  I don't really know much about the 806.  Really not my neck of the woods.  But the fact that the 806 is getting split up into the 806 and 809 seems to indicate that this area has promise.  Or future promise.  In any case, I think that connecting to FrontRunner instead of just downtown Salt Lake offers so many more options for our friends on the wrong side of the lake that ridership will grow considerably on the 806 and 809.  But not at first.  It might take a while.
Prediction: Pleasant.

807.  This route is taking on some other duties besides just being a commuter express now; it takes in a greater swath of local-type destinations, like the Timpanogos LDS Temple, Adobe, and IM Flash.  It's going to run both directions, instead of just north in the morning and south in the afternoon.  No, it's not going to run all day, but I still think people are going to use it for more than just work in the morning.
Prediction: Full.

809.  See comments for 806--I really have no idea how much current 806 ridership comes from Eagle Mountain.  I think the possibilities for the 809 are similar to the 806; I think things will get cooking eventually.  But people didn't move to Eagle Mountain in the first place because they loved transit.
Prediction: Quiet.

811.  The 811 keeps shrinking!  It used to stretch as far south as Spanish Fork and as far north as downtown Salt Lake.  Now it's going to go from UVU to Sandy, and I bet it shrinks again when the Draper line opens.  I predict that ridership on the 811 will decrease considerably, because, hey, why take all day on the 811 when you can take FrontRunner?  A lot of people who currently take the 811 in the middle of the day are UVU students, whose pass is good for FrontRunner.  The only people who would still take the 811 are those who happen to live close to State Street in Lehi, which is not a major constituency of the route in my experience.  But some people will still need to take local service, and the 811 will still be the only bus in the county that runs on Sundays.
Prediction: Pleasant.

821.  Finally.  Finally.  The bus will come every hour to Payson, all day long.  I have lived with the 2-hour weekday midday frequency on the 822 for years; I have dreamed of this day for most of those years.  This will make this bus much more usable for our South-county friends who previously had to camp out to catch a bus in the middle of the day.  Connecting to FrontRunner will also probably encourage new ridership, and make the route much more connected to Provo in general; you won't have to go through BYU to get everywhere else in town.  The old 822 served the BYU market well, but this 821 serves all the markets better.
Prediction: Full.

822.  Well, the bus will still go to BYU, a few times a day.  UVU commuters will be torn: do I drive to an 805 stop and get there faster, or do I catch the 822 that comes closer to my house, but takes forever?  The 822 will also be the only bus serving southeast Provo; it's a bummer for those people, but I think some of them will still use the limited 822 service to get around.  Between BYU and UVU, I think this route has a decent chance of succeeding.
Prediction: Full.

830.  Where do I start?  This route is the workhorse, the backbone, the lifeblood of transit in Utah County.  It's going to connect to FrontRunner on both ends.  It's going to go nearly everywhere you want to go.  It comes every 15 minutes.  It's already one of the busiest buses in the entire UTA system, without FrontRunner.  And it's the single fastest way to UVU from the Orem FrontRunner Station.  It's going to be insane.  They're going to need an 830X to run people to UVU and back.
Prediction: Slammed.

831.  The 831 is like that quiet, unassuming person you don't really think of as a contender at first.  It goes through BYU backwards, and it's going to start going through UVU backwards again.  It skips all the important roads in town; it makes lots of crazy turns and doubles back on itself twice.  And yet, it manages to turn in decently good numbers and avoid service cuts all the time.  Adding a FrontRunner connection and 7 Peaks Boulevard is only going to increase ridership.  I also predict that people, sick of cramming onto an 830 to get to UVU, will try the 831, especially since the 831 will stop right in front of the library, institute, etc. and the 830 will only stop at the entrance to campus.  I think the 831 will stick around for a long time.
Prediction: Pleasant/Full.

832.  The 832 used to be a heavyweight route; I used to avoid it at all costs near BYU because it was so full.  Then the BYU market collapsed, and the 832 has not borne the recession well.  The new 832 will pick up some old 833 riders around the Provo Temple, but it's giving up 300 South and 7 Peaks to the 831, and Riverwoods to the 834 and 842.  I think the 832 will stick around for a long time too, but it's definitely not a big deal anymore.
Prediction: Quiet.

833.  I like this new 833.  It connects a whole side of Provo that had abysmal or no service before.  It is new, so it will take a while to catch on, but it's more of a city route than the others I've said that about, it will run all day, and it will connect to pretty much every other route in Provo/Orem, so I think it has a good chance of succeeding.
Prediction: Quiet/Pleasant.

834.  I like this new 834.  It also provides service to a new area of Provo; one that will probably not attract many residents, but will attract workers at the many offices over that way.  It's also a much faster connection from South Provo to Riverwoods than the current 832.
Prediction: Pleasant.

836.  This route seems to mainly exist to take people to FrontRunner and back.  It will only run a few trips a day, so it might not capture as many riders as it could if it ran all day, but the trip to the FrontRunner station is short enough that I think we'll see a few people even on day one.  Whether it grows from there, or gets subsumed back into another route in a few years, is anyone's guess.
Prediction: Quiet.

842.  I like that this route goes down Geneva.  I like that it goes down 800 North.  I like that it goes to Riverwoods.  But we are talking about Orem here.  This route could go either way.  It could revitalize transit in North Orem, or it could fall into somber step beside the 862.  I think some people will prefer this route to the 834 to get to Riverwoods from FrontRunner; I'm not sure if people that live over that way would want to catch this bus to get to FrontRunner to go somewhere else.  For now, I'll play it safe.
Prediction: Quiet.

850.  This route isn't changing all that much, except that it will be going into the FrontRunner station in American Fork, and it will be back on Main Street in Lehi.  The 850 is already a highly successful route; I don't think the changes are going to drive people away, and they will probably attract more people.  As long as it's on time.
Prediction: Full.

853.  I'm going to go out on a complete limb here and say that Adobe and IM Flash employees are going to salivate at the chance to commute from elsewhere on FrontRunner and cram onto this bus to get to work.  Eventually people have to get sick of that freeway!
Prediction: Full.

862.  Oh, 862, 862.  What are we going to do with you?  The 862 has never been a spectacular performer at the best of times.  I'm genuinely surprised when I see more than about two people on it.  I don't see ridership growing too much on the 862 (no FrontRunner connection); in fact, it may lose ridership due to competition with the 842.  When gas prices went up a couple years ago, even the 862 had more people on it, though.  It could grow, but I'm not holding my breath.
Prediction: Quiet.

I haven't written a post that long in ages.  That felt so good.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

TRANSIT HOLE

I was chatting with one of my friends about buses yesterday (translation: he asked me a question about buses and then listened patiently while I ranted for a while), and the subject came up, as it so often does these days, of the much-lamented cancelled BYU Ed-Pass.

After I had discoursed on it for a while, my friend said, "BYU has kind of dug itself into a transit hole, hasn't it?"

And I thought, my, isn't that a good way to put it.  A transit hole.  Good luck getting out.

Monday, October 8, 2012

A NICE WISH

A while ago, I was waiting for who-knows-what bus at Central, and an elderly woman approached me.  "Can you help me?"

I'll bite.  "What do you need?"

"I don't see very well.  Can you tell me when the 517 gets here?"

Fair enough.  We both sat on the bench as several buses went by.  Finally, as the 517 swung in, I said, "Ma'am, this is the 517."

She got up and said, "Thank you.  I hope your bus comes soon."

As she got on the 517, I thought, isn't that a nice thing to wish someone.

Friday, October 5, 2012

CONFERENCE CONFERENCE CONFERENCE CONFERENCE CONFERENCE

It's conference time!

For those of you who are wondering what the big deal about Conference is, let me assure you, General Conference is a BIG DEAL.

Every six months, the leaders of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints address the whole world via satellite broadcast.  In six two-hour sessions, they give short talks of 10-20 minutes each about Gospel topics, which are not coordinated with each other beforehand, but often end up seeming to follow certain trends together (and, honestly, which trend they seem to follow often depends on where you are in your life).  The experience unites Mormons all over the world, as the conference proceedings are translated into triple-digit languages and broadcast all over the world, to church meetinghouses and to homes via television and the internet.

During General Conference, thousands upon thousands of people from all over Utah, the United States, and the world converge on downtown Salt Lake City, mostly to attend conference, sometimes to protest it.  The Church pays for extra TRAX trains, which run free before and after each session of General Conference, to transfer the masses of the faithful and the protesters alike from downtown to their several destinations.  These trains tend to run mightily full, while others (we'll call them "less valiant," shall we?) fight their way up the freeway, through downtown, and into an unsightly parking garage, after which they have to walk farther to go to conference than did the people on the train.  I'm not judging them--Bible says not to--but I do think my way is more conducive to a peaceful Conference-going experience.


Thursday, October 4, 2012

DEAR STUPID PROVO PEDESTRIAN (21)

Dear stupid Provo pedestrian:

I suppose that wherever it was you had to go was SO important, and you had to get there SO fast, that you couldn't be bothered to walk ALL THE WAY to the end of the platform at City Center.  You should consider yourself lucky I don't have my zucchini with me . . .

Here's the problem.  You were SO anxious to cross the tracks that you didn't even stop to look to see if the crosswalk would be open.  Which is why you had to wait for a Green Line train to stop at the platform, wait, and then pull out, all while the crosswalk was open a few feet north of you.  You could have crossed in front of the train while it was stopped at the station, but no, you were too good for that.

Oh, and once the train finally got out of the way, you crossed the street, and you couldn't get onto the sidewalk!  There's a fence down the side of the street!  You had to walk up to where the crosswalk was anyway, except that now you were walking in the street instead of on the platform.  SO inconvenient.  Because, guess what?

YOU'RE NOT SUPPOSED TO CROSS THERE

Does that ever occur to you, ever?  Ever?

Regards,
BUSNINJA