Tuesday, July 30, 2013


This morning I was apparently in a Renaissancey mood, because I was listening to Messe de Nostre Dame by Guillaume de Machaut, the text of which is mostly in Latin.

I had just discovered this particular recording, and I was really getting into it--I love the wild, robust sound and the crazy French U's.  (It turns out that I am many kinds of nerd.)

As the train was almost to Salt Lake Central, I pulled my headphones out and started reconnecting with the world around me.   I looked up and saw a man wearing a Nike ® t-shirt that said:




And I thought, Nike is what?

I guess you had to be there.

Monday, July 29, 2013


A couple of Fridays ago, Baby decided to spend the evening with his grandparents.  Who are we to stand in his way?


We decided to spend a child-free evening with some couple friends, whose children had also decided to spend the evening elsewhere.  Isn't that convenient?

Many pleasant times were had and bon mots exchanged, but the important part of the story for this discussion was that we were at the Gateway and we wanted to be at the City Creek.  Various possibilities were aired, including taking TRAX.  However, since taking TRAX involved our friends having to take TRAX back, since they were parked at the Gateway,

and in the middle of the discussion I said, "Oh, let's just take the car."

It took a second, but then everyone looked at me with the same expression that you, dear reader, surely also have on your face right now.

I'm still not sure where it came from.

If it makes you feel any better, I got my comeuppance.  We walked all the way from the north end of the Gateway (by the fountain) to the "Summer Parking," then we got to the car and realized that there were two carseats in the back which had to be taken out before adults could get in the backseat.  I was embarrassed that our friends had to take the carseats out of the back before we could drive five blocks, though they assured me they were not mortally offended.  It probably took about ten minutes extra to take the car; more if you count that our friends had to put the carseats back in after we left.

Let this be a lesson to you.

Saturday, July 27, 2013


There have been an awful lot of treasures on the Trib's website lately, but I think the ones I'm presenting to you today are two of the best.  The first comes from a long line of similar comments made by this individual and others.  Most readers of this blog will be familiar with the sentiment (as it has been hashed and rehashed and rehashed and rehashed ad nauseam infinitum on the Trib's comment pages), but I want to draw your attention to one particular phrase:

This is the same individual who apparently accuses everyone who disagrees with her of working for UTA.

You read that bus service was cut?  You just READ that bus service was cut?


I have been on the receiving end of transit service cuts for years, even before 2011 when all the rail lines began opening.  And a service cut hurts, even when that service is going somewhere else.  No one is more ready for night service to come back than I am.  It affects me at least once a week (less often now that I'm not trying to come back from Provo late at night), though I guess I don't complain about it bitterly enough here for the average Trib commenter to notice.

But I can't abide people who just stand on the sidelines and take potshots.  Actually use UTA, if you dare, and then come back with legitimate, constructive criticism of the system.  Repeating the same vague invective over and over from outside the lines is a cowardly, ineffectual approach to a change that you probably wouldn't recognize when it happened anyway.

And now this:

First of all:




 I sure hope there was nobody on that train, because that would mean that some other foamer got a preview ride and I didn't, and then I would be bitter indeed.

Trust me, there will be people on the Draper Line when it, ahem, actually opens for business.  Even if no new people started riding TRAX at all because of the extension, people would still ride from 12300 South because they can get on there instead of driving to Sandy Civic Center (while Sandy Civic Center will hopefully, as I predicted, accidentally turn into a hipster hot spot . . .).  But, given that every other TRAX opening has drawn crowds during the hours of the day when the freeway also draws crowds, I'm guessing there will be at least a few brand new people who start taking the Draper Line when it opens.

Thursday, July 25, 2013


I think I have told this story on the blog at some time in the past, but I can't find it, so instead of copying and pasting I'll rerecount it briefly here:

I was riding the 822 in the middle of the day, back in the day when I didn't work full time yet.  Back in this particular day, the 822 only came once every two hours or so in the middle of the day, meaning that you either had to plan your whole day around catching one bus or bring camping gear with you to the bus stop.  I had chosen the first and was a fair bit grouchy about it.

Shortly after I huffily sat down in the back of the bus, an elderly man turned to me and said: "Isn't this wonderful?  The pioneers would be amazed if they saw how we get around these days!"

I was a bit taken aback by his question, both because it came without warning and because it reflected the opposite mindset from the one I was experiencing.  But it made me think.  It doesn't matter how I think things are supposed to be; it doesn't matter what I or anyone else think we deserve in this enlightened, modern age.  There is too much to be grateful for for people like me to mope about what we don't have.

I was reminded of this experience yesterday as we went out on the town for Pioneer Day.

I thought about all the service cuts the transit people of Utah have dealt with, even as other service is expanding--how the bus used to run on all the holidays; the late nights, Saturdays, and Sundays that many routes no longer run.  I thought:

I wish more routes ran on Sundays and holidays.
I wish UTA had run any service at all on July 4th this year.
I wish the bus ran later.
I wish everybody took transit.

But I am grateful for all the service we do have.  We have it so good.

The pioneers would have been amazed.

Monday, July 22, 2013


Early this week, commutergirl and I returned from a trip to Idaho, visiting family.  Having been gone for several days, we were now rather out of food.  We weren't going to starve that night, but there were a few things I wanted to pick up at the grocery store that night, particularly milk for my cereal the next morning.

So I took off along 45th South, where the nearest grocery store is.  When I say "I took off," I mean walking, since I had already missed the last 45 of the night in both directions.  It was 8:20 P.M.

I was reminded of what a difference three-fourths of a mile can make.  39th South is a pedestrian wonderland compared to 45th.  While there was sidewalk the whole way (on 45th, not getting to 45th from my apartment), it was under construction in three separate places, without any warning, without any detour, without any hope of getting around it other than walking in the mud and grass.  So what? you say.  Imagine if you were calmly driving to the grocery store, and suddenly, without warning, the road was closed, and you had to drive on the grass by the side of the road to get around the construction.  Now imagine that happened to you three times.  In five blocks.

Now imagine that your car doesn't have a roof, and then it started raining.  It started when I was about halfway to the store.  Fortunately I had brought my big umbrella with me, and MOST of the trees on 45th were pruned to a suitable height to allow me to pass under them with my big umbrella.

I did eventually make it to the store, and I walked all around it with my big umbrella, picking up things here and there.  At one point I had to bend over, push the umbrella into the floor with my chin, and reach upward for the milk.  It took a couple of tries.  I'm sure I was quite a sight--it would have made a great picture, except that both my hands and my chin were already taken.

I made it through the checkout line one-handed (not as easy as you might think) and back out onto the street with my big umbrella open for business, as it was still raining.  But I now walked confidently down the sidewalk, knowing where all the potential impediments to my journey now lay.

Or so I thought.  When I got to about 600 East, I realized that the little business park there had the sprinklers on full blast, covering the whole sidewalk.  Now, you say, surely the sidewalk was already wet from the rain!  Well, yes; yes it was.  But I didn't really care for the experience of walking on a sidewalk where water was coming at me from above AND from the side.  I did what any normal person would do: I took off through the business park.

I passed various shadowy doctor's offices (the offices were shadowy; I offer no value judgement about the doctors here), as well as a room where a bridge tournament was apparently going on; then, after what I judged a sufficient distance to clear the sprinklers, I cleared them, and continued on my way home.  All in all, it had been a good night: just ridiculous enough to keep me interested.

And you better believe I enjoyed my milk and cereal the next morning.

Friday, July 19, 2013


So, as you may have already figured out, UTA put up the latest changes for August on their website this week.  Rather than burden you with an excess of prose about all of the changes (I have already left comments on an earlier post, if you want to read some of them), I have prepared a graphic that shows just how much the bus service has changed in Provo and Orem since last year.

Click to enlarge
It was prepared in extreme haste, and very probably contains errors.  Forgive me.  Hopefully you can still see that transit service in Utah County has definitely been in the blender lately.  Holy crap.  I'm fascinated to see where it all ends up.  Until then, my Utah County friends, happy traveling on whichever route it is you will be taking now

Thursday, July 18, 2013


Dear Salt Lake Tribune:

Given that you were originally started as an anti-Mormon newspaper (you were referred to as "The Godbeite Rag" in my house, growing up), I have never spent much time on you.  But lately, I keep seeing headlines on your front page (one of your boxes is next to the 39 stop I frequently patronize) that talk, sort of, about transit.  And they confuse me.

I was under the understanding that you are the more liberal of the two major newspapers in the Wasatch Front.  You certainly seem to bill yourself that way.  So why do you hate UTA so much?

When I searched desnews.com for stories about transit, the most recent story that came up was dated June 4th.  It was about a safety exercise on the new Draper Line.  There was also an article about a man who got hit by a FrontRunner train, one about how the new Airport line was "packed" with passengers, and one about how the LDS Church is using transit to move its missionaries around.  Okay.

When I searched sltrib.com, I found stories from

June 20th
June 22nd
June 25th
June 26th
June 28th
July 4th
July 7th
July 12th
July 18th

some of which have innocuous enough titles, but contain quotes like

As previously reported by The Salt Lake Tribune, UTA ridership has been essentially flat over the last year despite the investment of hundreds of millions in new rail projects as the agency has scaled back express and other bus service.

(this in complete lack of acknowledgement of UTA's rebuttal), or

UTA General Counsel Bruce Jones — who received a $25,000 bonus beyond his other wages and benefits of $287,794

I find it distinctly odd that what the Tribune clearly considers a national crisis doesn't even make it into the Deseret News.  Could it be that you are blowing things a little out of proportion?

Consider the cost of John Inglish's pension on transit service.  A Gillig transit 40-foot bus runs about $400,000 these days (though some transit buses cost as much as $600,000, but we'll stick with the first number for now).  That means that UTA could buy another Gillig once every two years with John Inglish's pension.

(Last year, UTA bought 40 buses; in 2011 they bought 30, as well as various Paratransit buses, whose numbers I honestly don't keep track of very well)

But wait.  That's not including the cost to OPERATE the bus, of which 70% or more may be the cost to pay the driver.  Assuming that once we have bought this extra bus, we want to run it; and that the cost to run it is $124/hr, we can get 1,613 hours out of that bus per year for our $200K.  Divided by 260 weekdays per year, that's 6 hours per weekday.  At that rate, it would take about

8 years

to put the 203 back in service on weekdays for a year.  Then we'd have to wait 4 years to be able to do it again.  That's not counting the 207, 236, 327, 335, 348, 356, 389, 801, 802, 803, 804, 805, 806, 807, 810, and 817; as well as the night service cut on routes 6, 21, 39, 45, 54, 200, 205, 228, 240, 516, 519, 604, 625, 645, 811, 831, 832, and 850; and the Saturday service cut on routes 9, 11, 17, 223, 227, 228, 232, 236, 248, 472, 520, and 613; and the Sunday service cut on routes 6, 39, 45, 72, 240, and 604; as well as numerous other individual trip cuts on almost every route ever.

Clearly, getting rid of John Inglish's pension would solve everyone's problems instantly.  Sales tax has nothing to do with it.  Sorry for the math.

Your continued harping on the alleged corruption and hoodwinking of the public by evil UTA officials can only stem from either an honest misunderstanding of the situation (hopefully I've been able to shed some light on the subject) or an attempt to attract attention from the small but devoted crowd who hates UTA by continuously slandering them in print.  If it's the first, please get educated.  If it's the second, grow up.  Your attempts to stamp out the evils of UTA will at best prove ineffective and at worst will derail (pun intended) one of the best transit systems in the country.



Wednesday, July 17, 2013


Last week there was a rather mean-spirited article in the Tribune that repeatedly attempted to steamroll UTA's rebuttals to earlier articles.  I was annoyed at this, as well as by the fact that the evils of UTA are apparently the most important thing the Trib can report on its front page, so I wrote a scornful response.

I don't think it made much of a difference, considering the tenor of the other 31 comments, but whatever.

My comment received a couple of legitimate responses, as well as this one:

  • This remark would have some credence if you didn't make it on every other thread.
  • I know this is inconceivable to you, but there are people out there who think UTA is doing a good job.  And (yet more inconceivable) some of them don't even work for UTA!  Don't get me wrong, I have a long list of things I want UTA to fix.  But I've ridden transit other places, and I've seen visitors to our fair state absolutely floored by the quality of our transit.  Trust me, it could be much, much worse.
  • Please don't try to damn me with the sophomoric accusation that I "must be . . . paid by the public."  A lot of people are paid by the public.  The guy who mows the lawn at Murray Park is paid by the public.  The people who take care of your streets and highways are paid by the public.  Until you start maintaining your own asphalt and mowing your own parks, among many other public services you think you deserve, you are going to pay for them just like everyone else: with your taxes.  Sorry.
And here's a couple of treasures from Twitter:

  • It's "somehow;" one word.  Capitalize "so."  You may also want to consider a comma after "so."
  • Your implication is clear: you are better than people who take transit.  People who take transit belong to a lower social class than you.  You can barely tolerate that they exist at all, and the fact that you have to subsidize transit with your taxes is just too much.  Allow me to point out that I have a master's degree and work full time.  I wear business casual to work, and I feel underdressed on TRAX in the morning.  I assure you that plenty of people on TRAX in the morning make more than I do.  So I'd appreciate it if you kept your superiority complex to yourself, instead of spilling it forth on Twitter.
  • Where do you think the money to maintain the freeway comes from?  Fairies?
  • I hate to break this to you, but you voted for your state legislator.  Or, if you didn't vote, you have no right to complain whatsoever.  If your state legislator doesn't agree with your views, you should probably also take that up with your state legislator.

  • I'm not sure where you're getting "epitome of unprofessionalism" from this comment, since I would characterize the UTA Twitterperson as "unfailingly polite and professional in the face of an awful lot of stupid."  You are the epitome of a non sequitur, if you are, in fact, even commenting on the right thread.
  • Speaking of which, I'm not wearing pants!
Goodnight all!

Monday, July 15, 2013


Dear stupid Provo driver:

If you're going to go, go.

If you're going to stop, by all means, stop.

But please don't keep pulling forward a few inches at a time.  I'll wait for you to go, if that's what you want.  I'll walk briskly across the driveway you're trying to pull out of, if that's what you want.  But I can't deal with this pull forward a few inches, then stop, then pull forward, then stop.  See, your car is rather big and made of metal.  I am comparatively small and squishy.  In an encounter between the two of us, your car would almost certainly win.  So you can understand my hesitation.  But I really don't understand yours.

If you really wanted me to go that bad, you could have waved me across the driveway with your hand.  Lots of cool people do it.  I promise you won't look dorky.  Try it!


Thursday, July 11, 2013


Apparently that's what it's called when missionaries use FrontRunner to get from the MTC to the Airport, or their mission in Salt Lake, as the case may be.  There's always a good crowd of missionaries, but last week there were 29 in one car:

If you know any of these missionaries, I'm afraid a shoutout is, in fact, obligatory.  Especially if you know the sleepy elder in front.
It is fun to see the missionaries and remember my own experiences, but it does make me feel odd that our worlds should cross in this way--they are on their way to the biggest experience of their lives so far, and I'm . . . on my way to work.

This particular time there was a group of sisters engaged in a discussion of Spanish idioms.  The ringleader was expressing her amusement at the saying "Me cae bien . . ." (literally, "he/she falls well to me;" meaning, "we get along well").  I thought about piping up that the opposite idiom is "Me cae gordo . . ." ("he/she falls fat to me"), but I refrained.  They'll learn soon enough.

A little later the same ringleader sister said, "Does anyone remember how to say 'stab?'  We must have looked that up, like, twelve times!"

Another sister said, "YOU looked it up twelve times."

I don't know about anyone else, but I'm pretty sure I never had to say "stab" my whole mission, but, for the record, it's apuñalar.

Another time, one of the elders offered me a seat.  I said, "No, that's okay," because I was thinking, sheesh, elder, you're on your way to the biggest experience of your life so far, and I'm . . . on my way to work.  I'll let you sit.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013


The next time you're riding a bus and you see a bro with his headphones plugged into his phone, and you're tempted to write him off, just remember that it could be me just having a bro day and listening to this:

I never thought of myself as much of a bro, until I started having conversations with my roommates in college that went something like this:

ROOMMATE: Every guy who works out at the Gold's Gym on 9th East is a tool.

ME: *cocks eyebrow*


or this:

ROOMMATE: Any guy who wears pink polo shirts is a total douche.

ME: I'm wearing a pink polo shirt right now.

ROOMMATE: Except [BUSNINJA], of course.

You get the idea.  Actually, I would make a terrible bro, since I don't ever say "bro," and I never get drunk, and I have a wife and a kid, etc., etc.

But save your judgmental stare for someone else, because I'm surprisingly deep.

Saturday, July 6, 2013


Miss the Bus Day happens every year, but not at the same time every year (indeed, Miss the Bus Day 2012 was technically in early 2013).  Someday, when I am famous against my will, it will be a national holiday; until then, I have to document it here.

Miss the Bus Day 2013 began at Jordan Landing, when, as I have previously mentioned, the line at the store I was shopping at


was so long that I missed the 240 Southbound back to the Red Line.  Instead, I caught it north to the West Valley Central.  When we (many bends in the road and many children later) eventually got to 35th South, I noticed the 35 was right in front of us, and I thought, welp, there it goes.  Who knows how long I'll have to wait?

See, I have three choices to get home when I get to West Valley Central:

Click to enlarge.

All three of them come every 30 minutes on Saturday.  So when I saw the 35 right in front of the 240, I figured I would miss it.  It certainly looked that way when we pulled into opposite ends of the terminal.  However, by running really fast and waving my arms like a crazy person, I was able to hop on the 35 just before it pulled away.  I thought Miss the Bus Day had been canceled.

I was wrong.

When the 35 got to the Meadowbrook garage, I saw the 39 going the other way,

On an unrelated note, can someone explain to me why the Cottonwood Heights Fire Department is apparently in South Salt Lake?  Isn't that rather inefficient?

 which is bad, because the 39 going the other way on the back side of Meadowbrook will shortly become the 39 going the right way on the front side of Meadowbrook.

As you may have guessed from this artfully rendered map, the 39 somehow made it all the way around the block before the 35 made it around the corner.  I had missed it, and would have to wait another half-hour fro the next one. 

What the heck, I thought.  I walked from the Meadowbrook garage to the Meadowbrook TRAX Station--there's a fascinating bridge over the Freeway and FrontRunner.  I then sat in the shelter for the 39 Westbound for a while until the bus came.  A little hot and tired, but with new clothes in tow, I finally made it home.  All in all, not too bad as Miss the Bus Days go.

Monday, July 1, 2013


This was the slogan for one of the bus companies I rode between cities in Perú, back in the day.  Those were some amazing bus rides--soaring views, mountains behind mountains, and the thrill of adrenaline as we came HOW CLOSE to the edge of a huge cliff . . .

It was also apparently the slogan for the 240, two Saturdays ago, when I rode it (the second time).  There were no fewer than four families on the bus that day, including a rollicking family of seven whose oldest child could not be more than 12.

I knew the 240 was a busy bus, but it got a little ridiculous.

It made me think--with the Salt Lake City Council resolving to double transit use by 2020, and everyone worried about air quality recently, a lot of proposals have been tossed around about how to increase transit ridership.   Someone on Facebook recently proposed letting all children 16 and under ride free (instead of the current 5-and-under policy) " . . . to encourage families to ride."  After that trip, I think there might be something to that.  It sure made for a crowded 240 on a Saturday afternoon.