Thursday, August 22, 2013


(Forgive me as I slip into the likely already-dated vernacular of my carefree college singlehood)

So, as you may have heard, today UTA and the U of U announced that they are still friends, and that if you buy a ticket to a U of U sporting event, you can ride bus, TRAX, and FrontRunner for free all day.  Frankly, I think it's a great idea for both parties.  The amount of traffic generated by a sporting event around here is truly astonishing, and the U is not exactly next to all the freeways in town (not that the freeways can even handle it).  The clear answer is to get people in and out of there on transit.

Which brings me to the subject of BYU.

Let me put it bluntly: BYU sucks at transit.  BYU is also far away from any freeway, with no streets around it that support the demand for automobiles that our society requires of it.  BYU creates a moderate traffic jam in a good part of Provo every day, but when there's a sporting event, most of the city shuts down.  I have walked around town faster than traffic on the day of a BYU football game.  BYU has a much greater proportion of its student body living close to campus than the U does, many of whom live in cramped apartments or overcrowded houses.  Most students live downhill from campus; most of those that live uphill live a greater distance away than the downhillers, and usually have to cross University Avenue (where one prominent crossing was removed a few years ago so that people would stop dying).  The situation is ideal for transit, and UTA service to BYU was excessively successful during the days of the Ed Pass.  The LDS Church, which reportedly owns BYU, provides  passes at a heavy discount to its office employees.  H. David Burton, former Presiding Bishop of the Church, currently sits on the UTA Board of Trustees.

But some administrators who have reserved parking spots behind the ASB decided that subsidizing transit passes "wasn't a good use of tithing money."  That sentence may sound bitter to you, but the part about tithing is true, according to one of my professors who also works for MAG.  Others of my professors and many students explained to the administration the feasibility of working the cost of a transit pass into a student fee--these proposals were consistently rejected with no logical explanation that I can divine.  "BYU can't charge the cost of a bus pass as a student fee because it is a private university."  Um, but you CAN raise the price of a student football ticket $20 in one year to pay for new seats in the stadium?

No, instead we got an email saying there would suddenly be no more BYU bus pass.  Instead, there would be four rental cars to meet students' transportation needs.  Because four rental cars would serve the 3,300 students who used the bus pass.  I admit that it was hard not to have at a tiny bit of  schadenfreude when nobody used the car-sharing cars, not because I had anything against Hertz, but because it was proving wrong the absurd idea that four cars could "replace" seven bus routes.

Things have not improved since then.  The 832, which used to be so full I avoided it whenever possible, is now down to once every two hours on Saturdays.  The 831 no longer visits BYU Campus proper at all.  The only real group of people who use the bus at BYU are a small group of commuters left over from the 817 who come down on FrontRunner in the mornings and fill up approximately one 830 in the morning and one in the afternoon.  It's pathetic.

As far as I can tell, UTA still stands with open arms toward BYU.


But BYU will not make friends with UTA until certain administrators who have reserved parking spots behind the ASB either retire or perish.  Either is fine.

Until then, cougs, the U is kicking your trash at transit.  Hard.



    Couldn't agree more.

  2. I am sure BYU PR will have a fun week. The thing that gets me is BYU puts up ads all over TRAX and FrontRunner, but don't provide Ed Passes. It is interesting that there are a number of private schools that offer passes, like Westminster and many Catholic High Schools. Downtown Church employees don't get free passes, but we get an Eco Pass at a very generous rate.

  3. Thanks for the clarification; I'll update the sentence about Church employees when I get the internet back. I hope they catch some heat for this!

  4. I'm in grad school at the U now, but I completed my undergrad at BYU. I have numerous theories as to why BYU refuses to support transit. The main one is that transit (and particularly FrontRunner) gives students more housing flexibility, which conflicts with the notion of BYU-approved housing.

    1. Sometimes I mention things about BYU that leave my non-BYU colleagues at work aghast. One is beard cards, and another is that you have to sign a waiver to live with your parents if they live beyond the BYU-approved housing boundary. What a crazy place :)