Thursday, May 30, 2013


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:

 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.
  • 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
  • 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.


  1. I ride transit to work every day. I'm a UTA employee, and I wish I worked at a place as accessible to transit as the main admin building. We have 2 buses coming from two different Trax stations (39 and 35) at my building (which is actually UTA's biggest bus facility). I think the current count of buses going to Central Station (Which is next door to the main admin building and across the street from UTA's second biggest garage) is 17 or 18.

    Also, one more point to your list there, BusNinja...LOTS of employers have contracts with UTA for their employees passes. Often the employer pays a large chunk of the bill for that pass. And the amount that the employees pay is substantially, even embarrassingly, lower than the price of the ridiculously low lease quoted by the tweeter. In fact, I can think of one particular employer whose employee costs for a month pass is around half what I paid for a tank of gas last time I filled up.

    1. And, just for the record, you don't shout "HEY! I'M A UTA EMPLOYEE!" every time you get on the train? :)