Friday, May 31, 2013

FREE SPIRIT

Ever since UTA released their data for people to make transit apps, people have been making a lot of transit apps.  My favorite is ontime.utah.gov; I guess I just like the way it looks best.  It shows me lots of buses and trains, when they're coming, what serial number they are, and whether they are on time or not (actually, all the apps show that, but I guess I just like the way this one looks best).  And sometimes, it shows me things that bring me mirth.


I can only guess that bus #10037, tired of the confines of the 21, decided to break free of its normal route and head for the mountains.  Or it simply had an identity crisis and briefly thought it was a 21 when it was, in fact, a 354.  If it was the first one, I'd sure hate to be a passenger on that bus (though I would like to see the passengers' faces when it took off down I-215).

Thursday, May 30, 2013

TREASURES FROM THE INTERNET (4)

There was a fascinating thread on Twitter today.  It went on, but the following should be sufficient for my purposes.



  • First of all, and let's keep this clear:
JE VOUS EXÈCRE

 Now for a healthy dose of facts:

  • You've compared UTA's most expensive pass to an extremely low rate of lease for a new car.  Consider the following:
    • To get that monthly rate on a nice new car, $2,500 to $4,000 may be due at signing.  That's a lot more than $198.
    • Or you may be limited in the number of miles you drive per year, sometimes as low as 7,500 (Forbes)
    • The cost of a UTA local monthly pass is $83.75.
    • The cost of a UTA reduced fare or senior monthly pass is $41.75.
    • The cost of a UTA low-income or horizon monthly pass is $62.75.
    • The cost of a Medicaid pass is $0.
    • All of those numbers are a lot less than $169--and have $0 extra due at signing!
  •  You may consider the extra costs of insurance, gas, maintenance, parking, etc. to be "worth it" for the "extra convenience" of driving a car, but they still add up.  The most recent repair on our car was $805, and we know there are more coming.  We often wish we could quit ourselves of the thing.
  • Cars are extra convenient, huh?  That's relative.
.
blog.sebastianwaters.com
  • By "pad those wallets of the Board," do you mean their salary?  Good one.  Do you mean board members doing shady deals involving property adjacent to the Draper FrontRunner Station?  You do know that guy got in trouble, right?  Old news.  Also, this kind of thing has never happened anywhere else in the world besides UTA, obviously.
  • I agree with you that UTA fares are too high for comfort.  But UTA does offer a few things for those fares--free transfers for 2 hours (other places you pay extra; in Chicago, I was denied a transfer by a bus operator and had to pay twice to get on two buses), transfers between different modes, and travel among multiple metropolitan areas.  In other cities, you may have to switch from one bus company to another to get where you're going, and the second bus driver may or may not respect the fare you paid on the first bus.  That gets old after, oh, about once . . .
  • I will repeat, until I am hoarse and everyone else's ears hurt, that THERE IS MORE TO FREAKING UTAH THAN SALT LAKE CITY.  Stop saying things like "SLC public transit," as they are inaccurate.  UTA stretches from Brigham City to Santaquin.  Your point of view stretches about as far as your nose.
  • Given that you prefer to "spend that extra money on the convenience of the car," you are clearly not a member of the poor classes you seek so ardently to defend.  Do you ride the bus every day (I do)?  Do you associate with members of the transit-dependent population every day on your way to work (I do)?  Did you know that, to receive federal funding, UTA is required to keep track of whether the bus is as ON TIME in low-income and minority areas as elsewhere, per Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964?  It's crazy, but it's true.  And while I dislike service cuts as much as the next person, it bears mentioning that FAR more service cuts have occurred in affluent suburbs than in transit-dependent areas within UTA's service area.
  • You're behind the times; UTA's administrative offices are now located immediately adjacent to Salt Lake Central Station--accessible via TRAX, bus, and FrontRunner, to put it mildly.
  • How do you know that no UTA employees ride transit to work?  Were you expecting them to loudly announce
HEY, EVERYBODY!  I WORK FOR UTA!  COOL, HUH?
  • every time they get on a train?  Do you know any company, actually, whose employees do that on the way to work, even if they really like their job?
  • How many UTA employees do you think wear suits to work?  The executives, maybe.  The mechanic?  The parts clerk?  The janitor?  Probably not so much.  It may be that your method for assessing the concentration of UTA employees on a bus is fallacious.  According to UTA's 2011 CAFR, about 75% of their workforce is in Operations: bus, rail, and paratransit.  I guarantee those people don't generally wear suits to work.
  • Have you ever caught the 39 west of TRAX?  I have many times (commutergirl used to work over there, for example).  I can tell you the crowd is mostly bus drivers, getting to and from work.  Which is to say, good people putting in an honest day's work who are sick of people like you insulting the company they work for.
  • I know you think that UTA is entirely peopled by fat old white men trying to skive a living off of poor, downtrodden taxpayers; have you ever thought about the expense of running over 400 diesel buses and 135 miles of trains day in and day out?  It's expensive to provide transit service, just as it is expensive to build and maintain street and freeway infrastructure.
Next time before you go off on one of your favorite rants, take a second to think about what you're saying.  I think I've given you ample material to ponder.




Wednesday, May 29, 2013

GRATUITOUS PICTURES (1)

So, there was a public hearing in Provo tonight, about a number of changes to the bus service in Utah County.  Normally, I'd be there, salivating in front of maps and haranguing the planners until they say things like, "Anyone besides me would be happy to answer that for you." 

(It's been a few years, but that's pretty close to the actual quote.)

However, I am not there (obviously, because it's 9:30 and the hearing got over at 7:30).  I did not go today.  I am at home with my wife and baby, because, after a serious discussion with my wife about the matter, we determined that it was too much for me to be gone at work all day AND going down to Provo all night.  So I bit the bullet; I did it for my wife and child.  If anyone went to the hearing tonight, I'd love to hear your thoughts.

In conjunction with having a baby, and sending pictures to grandparents, and having a coal-fired camera whose USB cable I lost a while ago, it became necessary to buy a USB memory card reader from Best Buy (you should have seen how excited the sales associate was to sell me one; I don't think they're a popular item).  This has also facilitated the upload of a lot of gratuitous pictures from my phone onto my hard drive (I also have a coal-fired phone . . .).  I offer some of them to you now.  I do have a big adventure-type post in the works, but the amount of time I spend at home NOT holding a baby is small, and diminishing, so it may take a while to finish.  Until then, gratuitous pictures.

Today's installment is the let's-post-a-picture-of-winter-when-it's-not-winter-anymore picture for this year.  This was taken back when it snowed and froze and snowed and froze and snowed again, leading to the accumulation of gratuitous amounts of snow all over, especially at transit stops.


To get on a bus, I either had to walk around the snowdrift or over it.  Eventually it got so hard that I could just stand on top of it; I had two footholes worn into the top.  I must have been quite the sight, standing atop the snowdrift in dress pants, but no bus driver ever could have accused me of not being visible enough.

Also, my phone tells me this picture was taken at 7:33 a.m.  I don't miss winter right now.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

I DON'T UNDERSTAND THE QUESTION

Today when I got on the 200 to go home the bus driver asked me how my weekend went; I responded, truthfully, that I spent most of it holding a fussy baby.

A woman on the bus piped up:

IS IT A CAT OR A DOG?

The question brought me up short.

Ma'am?

It's a BABY.

I thought that was implied.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

THE LONG VERSION

I actually meant to write this post, like, a month ago, but I forgot.

BAAAAAAAAAAAAAABY

I was reminded today when I was walking down 200 South and I saw a bus that said on the front:

220 TO 9400 S
PARK 'N' RIDE

It's on two rows like that because each row represents what will show up on the front of the bus at any one time, so it flashes back and forth between the two rows.

This is notable because buses have been saying less and less in recent years.  They used to be quite descriptive.  For example, if you caught it at the right time of day, the 220 might have said

220 1300 EAST/
HIGHLAND DR
TO
9400 S 2000 E
PARK 'N' RIDE
JUDGE MEMORIAL
ROUTE ON DETOUR

which was all well and good if you were contemplating it from the platform at Central, but, considering it takes each row about three seconds to come and go, if you caught it somewhere far-flung on Highland Drive, you might never know where the bus you were getting on was going.

Unless, of course, you already knew everything about the 220.  Hahaha . . .

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

THE PLOT THICKENS

As I've alluded to in the past, TRAX is not always the fastest way to get places when you have to connect from a bus.  A year ago, I took the 200 straight into work because it was faster than catching the 39 to TRAX and TRAX to downtown.  Nobody believed me, because, hey, TRAX!  But it was true.

Then FrontRunner opened, and I started catching the 200 the wrong way down to Murray Central, then FrontRunner to Salt Lake Central.  I figured that, since the 200 to downtown was faster than the 39-TRAX combo I had originally tried, it would be faster just to catch the 200 straight to Murray Central, then FrontRunner, right?

I was wrong.

It's actually three minutes faster for me to catch the 39 to TRAX, then catch TRAX the wrong way to Murray Central, then catch FrontRunner to Salt Lake Central.  This is also faster than catching the 200 straight to downtown.  Holy crap.  Who knew that two transfers could be faster than no transfers?

At this rate, next year it will be faster for me to catch the 228 on 45th South all the way through the U and back to downtown.  Nobody will believe me then, either, but that's okay because I'm used to it.

Monday, May 20, 2013

UTAH ACCENT

I saw this on the way to the bus stop the other day.


  The Utah accent is for rill,  you guys.

Saturday, May 18, 2013

SWEARING DOESN'T MAKE YOU MANLY

In today's troubled world, we all seek standards by which to define ourselves, norms on which to rest our identity when it is called into question, and justifications for our behavior when it doesn't fit any norm; but we are only successful to the extent that our search for meaning actually addresses the adversity in our lives . . . this is a subject on which I actually have quite a lot to say, if you put me in a headlock and ask me about it.  And while the statement in the title of this post may or may not be true in all cases, I present to you here two rather convincing examples.

The first was a man, probably in his forties, on the 200 one day when I was catching it into Central Station.  He was having a cell phone conversation in which he was mad at a lot of people for a lot of things (external locus of control, much?).  It went on for quite a while, but I'll give you a taste of how it went, more or less:

ANGRY MAN: He's such a dumba**.  I swear, if he ever does that again, I'mma f***ing go to his f***ing house and f***ing punch him.

(pause)

ANGRY MAN: No, mom, I'm just saying people shouldn't do things like that to me!

When I realized the nature of the conversation I was being forced to listen to, I was initially inclined to laugh at its sheer absurdity.  But I refrained--in ten years of riding transit, I have developed an astonishing amount of self-restraint.  When we got to Central, FrontRunner was pulling out of the station, headed north, and (now off the phone) the man muttered to himself.

ANGRY MAN: Stupid f***ing train, leaving me.  I'mma f***ing . . . I'mma f***ing . . .

His voice trailed off.  I never did find out how he was going to punish FrontRunner. But I got the impression that he was mostly going to punish it by saying the eff word.

The second fellow was on TRAX the other morning.  I wasn't privy to the original conversation, as it happened before I boarded, but apparently someone had told this man to get off at Murray North, and he had attempted to exit the train at Meadowbrook instead.  He was corrected; no harm done, except for certain irreparable, unexplainable damage to his ego.  He repeated over, and over, and over to his partner in a voice that was not quite loud enough to elicit a response:

ANGRY MAN: I thought that was Murray North!  I thought it was Murray North!  You can't trust anybody.  You can't f***ing trust anybody in this f***ing town.

She (his partner), as well as the man who had apparently given him directions originally, looked on in obvious wonder as he continued to insult, but not confront, the man who had given him directions, as well as say the eff word an awful lot.

Gentlemen.  Let's speak as men here.  Swearing does not make you manly.  The eff word does not fix anything.  Saying it over and over does not fix anything.  I'm sorry you haven't learned that yet.  Next time, try admitting you made a mistake, or standing up to someone who is harming you (if they are, in fact, harming something besides your ego).  That might work.  Or it might not.  But it will definitely make you feel better about yourself.  Which can only help you stop saying the eff word so much.

Friday, May 17, 2013

BEFORE AND AFTER

Baby waiting for the train:

WAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA
WAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA
WAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA

Baby ten seconds after we get on the train:

ZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZ

Thursday, May 16, 2013

JOIN THE GENERATION


I find it a little amusing that the article title references "Young Americans" and the first person they talk about is 42.  Then again, I guess I'm not as young as I used to be--it's all a matter of perspective.

Anyway, it is true that more people from the rising generation are taking transit than their predecessors.  Detractors state that it is probably because of the recession or because people haven't settled down yet, but I gently beg to differ.  The price of driving is not going to go down in the near future, perhaps ever, and as more and more people discover that transit really does work for them, transit is only going to get better.

Now, the next generation?  Who knows?  Maybe they'll all want to drive cars to rebel against us!  Maybe in 50 years environmental studies will talk about the benefits of single-occupancy vehicles over crowded trains.  So be it (if indeed it so be).  I'll be a stodgy old man who takes transit.  But if not, I'll see you on the bus someday.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

THE LATEST DAMAGE

Tori continues to amaze us with her exploits.  For example, commutergirl took her in last week for new tires, and it turns out that one of her wheels is one-sixteenth of an inch larger than the others, which is why Tori has also been having alignment problems.  I don't know where she got that, but I'm sure she didn't learn that kind of behavior from us.

So anyway, we went to get the tires replaced, and now, $805 later, we're waiting for the right size of wheel to come in.  Oh, and did I mention the transmission is going out?

Tori originally came at a very good price . . . if she hadn't come at such a good price, we probably would have been like

SHUT UP, MISTER OBESE USED CAR SALESMAN

and gone on our way.  Tori was there when we needed her, and, believe me, we're grateful for that.  But boy HOWDY is she turning into a money pit now.  $198/month for a FrontRunner pass is really starting to seem like a bargain these days.

Monday, May 13, 2013

EXTREME CHEAPSKATES

During the extremely long time we sat in the hospital waiting for something to happen, we watched a lot of reality TV.  Go ahead, judge us; you try spending three nights in the hospital waiting for a baby and not watching any reality TV.

One of the shows we caught a couple of episodes of was called "Extreme Cheapskates."

Attribution obvious.

After watching several examples, I can only conclude that "extreme cheapskate" means someone who focuses on extremely eccentric ways of saving money, to the detriment of the rest of their life.  Every person I can remember from the show missed out on one money-saving technique that, if saving money really WERE the point, should have been obvious to them.

For example:

1. The Lady Who Drives around with Her Family in a 12-Passenger Van Looking for Roadkill to Cook and Eat for Dinner.

This and subsequent images are all from the show.


And turn the fur into crafts.  And give them to the neighbors.  And tell the neighbors about it (the neighbors were okay with it until the last part).

The operative word here is "van."  That van can't get very good gas mileage, and they're driving all over the countryside in it.  The amount of money they spend on gas and maintenance on that vehicle could probably be put toward some sanitary meat and fur if they would just walk to the grocery store.  And don't tell me they can't, because she walks to the library to use the telephone.  Using roadkill may save "hundreds," but those hundreds are eaten up by their money pit of a van.


2. The Guy Who Fills up Huge Barrels of Water in the River to Save $0.99 per Barrel then Drives Them Home in His Horrible Old Truck.

This is not (necessarily) his truck.  But just try googling it and see if YOU can find it.


And won't fix it because it's too expensive.  And drives down the road at 20 miles per hour while everyone else honks and swerves around him.  And shouts "99 cents, baby!" apparently every time he fills a barrel with water from the river.

The operative word here is "truck."  A truck he won't get fixed.  A truck that most assuredly gets horrible, horrible gas mileage.  A truck that gets even worse gas mileage when loaded with barrels full of water, which weighs 62.4 pounds per cubic foot in Fluid Mechanics class, and something near there otherwise.  $0.99 is an ever-decreasing fraction of the price of one gallon of gasoline in the United States these days.  He would save more money by staying home and drinking from his stupid tap instead of going out of his way in a horrible old money pit of a truck to get unpurified water.

3.  The Guy Who Digs Empty Popcorn Bags Out of the Trash at the Movie Theater to Get Free Refills then Gives Them to His Wife.



And who didn't want to go on a date with his wife in the first place because it was too expensive.  And goes to an ice cream place and asks for a bunch of free samples but then doesn't buy anything.


The operative word here is "van," even though I didn't say it in the original description.  The fact is, they drove to the ice cream place in a van.  They drove to the movie theater in a van.  If they had walked to the movie theater, they probably could have bought a little something there.  (Or they could have just brought some treats from home.)  If they had walked to the ice cream place, he probably could have bought something, instead of filling up on free samples and alienating the staff of said ice cream place forever.  I, personally, like ice cream enough that I might want to go back to the same place more than once, a possibility that is now closed to this man.

Now, commutergirl and I have a car.  And yes, it is a money pit (more on that later).  And I realize that you can't walk everywhere (though, after last weekend, I think I might be able to; more on that later, also), nor is there transit service to everywhere.  But surely if you're that obsessed with saving money, you can keep track of one of your biggest expenses: a motor vehicle!

Friday, May 10, 2013

FRONTRUNNER IS [LESS] EXPENSIVE

First of all, Baby!

BABYBABYBABYBABYBABYBABY


commutergirl's mom was in town, because, Baby!

BABYBABYBABYBABYBABYBABY

Because her ride was me, I recommended that she take public transportation as often as possible, and she quickly learned the ins and outs of the system, even planning her own bus/TRAX outings on more than one occasion.

As part of her travels to visit other relatives, she even planned a trip on FrontRunner.  All was well until we realized that her plans behooved her to travel on Sunday.

FrontRunner doesn't run on Sunday.  Poop.

The next hour was spent researching other options.  The Salt Lake Shuttle would have cost over four times as much as FrontRunner.  A rental car was more expensive still, but that was the option we went with because it was more convenient.  But we were all sad she didn't get to take FrontRunner.

Based on this experience, I will hear no more talk of how expensive FrontRunner is.  It's more than I'd like to pay, too, but there are far more expensive options to get around.

Also, FrontRunner should run on Sundays.  Just saying.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

WALKING

I have been accused in the past of taking the bus for its own sake.  This is mostly not true.  I usually just have somewhere to be, much like how most Americans drive when they have somewhere to be.  It is true that I will sometimes take a longer way to get where I'm going, because I'm curious about the route, or because I don't want to get to where I'm going . . .

The other day I met someone who was apparently taking the bus for the heck of it.  I say this because she was vigorously walking back and forth in the immediate vicinity of the bus stop.  I'm all for getting your exercise while you're waiting for the bus; the thing was that once we got on, she got off two stops later, which, assuming the grid system is still true in Millcreek, comes out to a whopping

2000 feet

a distance she probably could have walked in the time it took the bus to come.  But then, I'm no one to tell you not to ride the bus, either.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

BÖSE HEXEN

The other day, as I walked up to the 200 stop, I saw a woman raising both arms high in the air and lowering them in unison in a manner that she may have considered exercise but looked to me like nothing so much as that she was casting a hex.


The word "hex" stuck in my mind and I suddenly remembered the tagline for a Facebook group from years ago, back when Facebook was cool and your friends judged your coolness by what Facebook groups you defined yourself as belonging to:

This group is for anyone who wants to join.  Absolutely anyone can join, except for, please, no böse Hexen . . .

Click to enlarge.  Or watch Bedknobs and Broomsticks.

The group description made me giggle in the BYU library then, and it would now if I were to read it in the BYU library now.

When I actually got up to the stop, she said, "Hello!" pleasantly, as if to start a conversation, but I stopped that in its tracks.  I know better than to talk to böse Hexen at bus stops . . .

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

INCONSIDERATE

Q. How do you know when someone is inconsiderate?

A. When there are only three people on the bus and you still have to edge past one of them to get off.

This sentence needs more punctuation, but you get the idea.

Monday, May 6, 2013

MY SON'S NAME

I am at least as excited about the birth of my son as any of you are.

To commemorate the occasion, I printed off a paper with the title

BABY BUSNINJA IS HERE

accompanied by a photo and his full name, and put it up on my cubicle wall.

My son has a perfectly normal name.  But several of my coworkers, reading the title of the picture, misconstrued it, thinking I had named my child "Busninja," a weird, possibly foreign, definitely-trying-to-be-trendy-and-unique name.  Several of them stopped by to ask

So, how exactly do you say your baby's name?

When I responded with his perfectly normal name, they would all sheepishly grin and say something like, "Oh, right, I, uh, I just thought that . . . never mind."  Some of my co-workers, hesitant to ask, would just say things like

"Congratulations . . . on  your baby . . ." 

and I would say "Thanks!" but I knew that on the inside they were judging me for naming my baby something unpronounceable.

I admit that it gave me a little bit of glee.

Saturday, May 4, 2013

SO GREEN IT HURTS

While Baby's arrival has meant that I have had to do more driving than usual,




it also means I get to run errands on transit on the way to work or on Saturdays.


I am a man of many emotions.  And many animal personae.





One of the things that desperately needed doing after Baby was born was taking the recycling out.  It was threatening the stability of our already diminutive kitchen.  We ended up taking it to Liberty Park on a family trip with Grandma and Grandpa and aunt and uncle (in a car).  But before this trip, we had discussed (and the discussion is still on the table, since the recycling will certainly pile up again) my taking it on the bus on my way to work.  The 205 is a little out of my way on the way to work, but not excruciatingly so; if I left a few minutes early I could manage.  At the thought of my taking recycling to the park on the bus on the way to work, I exclaimed

I'M SO GREEN IT HURTS

commutergirl, who is a bit put off by the idea of her husband boarding a city bus with kitchen-size garbage bags full of cans and newspapers, retorted

SO GREEN IT HURTS YOUR WIFE

So the discussion is still open, I think.  Baby has not yet expressed an opinion on the subject, but we'll keep you posted if he does.

Thursday, May 2, 2013

DEAR STUPID PROVO DRIVER (55)

Dear stupid Provo driver:

There are stupid drivers, and there are stupid drivers.  And then there are drivers that almost make me crap my pants.  What business do you have turning left

OVER A MEDIAN

late at night in the rain when I'm walking home from the TRAX station.  I was already having a rough night, and then you go turning left

OVER A MEDIAN

right in front of me.  What is with you people?

Regards,
BUSNINJA

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

THREE THINGS I HATE

Family is all about sacrificing for others.  Now that my family has grown I am learning more and more about sacrificing for them.  Cases in point:

  • I drove on the freeway.  commutergirl had driven us to the hospital (you can do that when you're getting induced, I guess), but she was recovering from emergency surgery and was in no condition to drive back, not to mention it's probably bad form to have the mother drive home anyway.  From University hospital, the quickest way to our house that isn't TRAX involves I-215.  So I bit the bullet; I did it for my wife and child.  I certainly wouldn't have done it if it were just me.
  • I turned left onto 45th South not at a light.  After we got home, commutergirl asked me to run and get a couple of prescriptions filled.  She was not amused when I told her I would just miss the 45 (on a Saturday).  When I was headed back home from the drugstore, I realized that I would either have to make an unprotected left turn back on to 45th South or loop clear around the block to who-knows-where and still turn left at a light.  So I bit the bullet; I did it for my wife and child.  I had to wait a very long time for traffic to clear enough for me to calmly and unhurriedly turn left onto the busy road.
  •  I drove on Fort Union.  Those of you who know me well know that Fort Union Boulevard is against pretty much everything I stand for: an endless line of strip malls and their attendant parking lots stretching off into the void.  There are 4-way stops that don't line up, left-turn lanes that appear out of nowhere and can only contain one car at a time, and more SUV's than even a car dealer could shake a stick at, all without any safe place for pedestrians to navigate.  Not to mention that neither the 72 nor the 213 is particularly awe-inspiring on a Saturday evening.  I would love to have gone on the bus, but it was too late for either of those two buses.  So I bit the bullet; I did it for my wife and child.  This one I'm not going to do again; Baby#2 will just have to go without whatever it is that can be bought on Fort Union.
So there you have it.  I did three things I hate on the same day because I love commutergirl and Baby. I would never make three trips in the car on the same day because I wanted to . . .