Wednesday, February 27, 2013

AIRPORT! AIRPORT!

As you may have seen, UTA announced the events re: the opening of the Airport TRAX line today.  This is the part where I get nerdy:

  • The 218!  Not only is it not being truncated at 1950 West, it's actually being extended over to 300 West (9 blocks longer).  Meaning, it'll take longer to get to Central, but that may be the point . . . If you're headed to the 3rd West area, you won't have to transfer at Central anymore, anyway.  And you can transfer to a train at . . . HOW many stations now?
  • ELEVEN STATIONS.  By my count, the 218 will now transfer to TRAX or FrontRunner Sandy Civic Center, South Jordan, West Jordan City Center, Redwood Junction, Winifred (it says 1950 West on the map, but I saw "Winifred" on a map once and that's what I'll call it forever), Power, Fairpark, Jackson/Euclid, Arena, Old Greektown, and Salt Lake Central.  I think that's a record.  Maybe the 455 . . . let's see . . . I guess the 455 wins if you count one-block-away transfers downtown, but not if you don't.  Anyway,
  • There's no way all those transfers could work.  Unless the 218 came every 10 minutes.  Which it's not about to . . . so if you're trying to transfer from a train to the 218, it'll come when it feels like it.  Or as soon as it can.  But there's just no way it's going to work all the time.
  • Another one bites the dust.  Okay, enough about the 218.  The 6, 227, 240, 523, 527, and 550 are each either losing a day of service or evaporating altogether.  Some of these are not unexpected (the 550 is getting replaced by TRAX, yo), and none of them are terribly lamentable (I once rode the 227 on a Saturday back in the old days when it was really long.  9 people got on from West Valley Central all the way to Salt Lake Central, and that was supposed to be the busy end.  Now that all that is left of the 227 is the not-busy end, I'm not shocked to learn that it's getting canceled on Saturday); indeed, many of these eliminations have been threatened before (even in the old days).  All the same, it would be nice someday to have a change day where the amount of service actually went UP.  Someday . . .
  • The 522 is back.  We'll see how it goes this time around.
  • The disclaimer. "We are unable to expand service on the Green Line earlier in the morning or later at night, as requested by passengers, due to budget restraints and obligations for overnight use of the track for freight movement."  A few weeks ago, the Trib, bless their hearts, ran a piece about how the only thing that matters on the Airport Line is that it won't run early or late enough to serve everybody.  While I wish that the Airport Line, and all transit ever, ran both early and late enough to accommodate everyone who wanted to use them, I feel like this article was just the invitation all the haters were waiting for to come out of the woodwork and hate on UTA.  I would encourage everyone who is mad about the Airport Line to check out a current 550 schedule, notice how late or early it DOESN'T run (the first bus to the Airport from Central is at 6:18 a.m.; the last is at 8:48 p.m.), repent, and stop hating forever.  The Airport Line isn't going to serve everybody.  But, for heaven's sake, it's so much better than the service that's there now.  Some people are so ignorant.
  • Last, but not least.  Opening day festivities Saturday, April 13.  I'm so there.

7 comments:

  1. I did notice that Portland's MAX to the Airport ends about the same time in the evening as TRAX.

    They are probably trying to see travel patterns on 218 before trying to cut it down. For those from the North it will probably be easiest to just walk over to 600 West and North Temple, from North Temple FrontRunner to get to 218.

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    1. From what I understand, that isn't the situation with the 218. There were problems with the route having to cross railroad tracks, so it was proposed to be cut a bit to solve that problem. Also, this route parallels the Green Line for quite a way (which is why it intersects with so many green line stations), which seemed, initially, like a bad duplication of service. But that caused such outcry that the route was changed to deal with the crossing problem in a different manner, and to not require a transfer for several customers to the green line for a few blocks. It costs a bit more to do it this way, but it's a better solution for 218 riders. From what I understand, the service planners are not looking at this route for cuts in future, though that could always change.

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    2. I'm not against a bus and TRAX running down the same road (it happens with the 228 and 455 on 4th South). But I wouldn't be surprised to hear that people moving on North Temple find that TRAX serves them better.

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  2. Here's the thing about early and late Green line trips to the airport: Even if UTA had an unlimited budget, this still couldn't happen because Union Pacific (the railroad) owns the right to the tracks during those hours, and they will never give that time up. UTA would have to build its own track out there, and what would the Trib say, then?

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    1. I'm pretty sure if UTA had an unlimited budget, the Trib would have something to say about it :)

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    2. Well, don't forget that UTA used to run TRAX until past 1 am on Friday and Saturday nights. So, it is doable.

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    3. I think the conflict with UP may only be on the airport line; do you know, Greg? If so, that would mean we could have late night service everywhere else, but that would be kind of awkward in and of itself . . .

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