Friday, August 30, 2013


I don't frequent the bus stop at Central every day--only on the days I work.

"You don't have to practice every day.  Practice only on the days you eat." --Shinichi Suzuki

Lately I have noticed a lot of CNG's out there--my brain being what it is, I'm constantly going "Hey! CNG on the 220! CNG on the 520! Hey! CNG on the 3! CNG on the 509!"

I don't generally say it out loud.

But one thing I haven't seen lately is any hybrids ('10 hybrids, that is; the '02 hybrids are still there, lumbering about like great beasts).

I idly wondered about this on my way to work for a couple of weeks, until last Saturday I went down to Orem and found . . .

The hybrids.

New UTA Hybrid Bus
Picture from  When this blog post was published back in the day, I wrote some snarky comments on Facebook about how UTA had put a picture of a Salt Lake bus on an article about the "Provo/Orem Shuttle" 830.  I guess I have to take them back now.

I saw an awful lot of hybrids parked at the Timp Garage on my way past, and I thought, is that where they have all gone?

I checked on my handy dandy app on Monday, and sure enough, they were all there.  On the 830.  On the 831.  On the 832.  On the 833.  On the 821.  On the 850.

My three-years-ago self would have been fascinated.


  1. I was sad to see Timp receive all the Central hybrids. Honestly, I prefer the '10 hybrids to the '13s. But I suppose it isn't the most egregious transit-related thing that's ever happened.

    Something egregious: the 213's new schedule. To see what I'm talking about, check the 33rd and 39th timepoints and only look at those. You'll see that the schedule averages about four minutes between those two points. . . But, out of nowhere, it's given nine minutes to travel between those two timepoints at 10:16 am. In fact, that same run is given twenty-four minutes to go from 3300 South to 5600 South. The runs before and after? Fourteen or fifteen minutes. There are probably more inconsistencies of that nature, but my, oh my. I've never seen a schedule set up like that.

  2. The 213...I have to respond, just by way of explanation.

    While the 213, overall, is a good performer, there were certain trips that were very poor when it came to reliability (staying on schedule). It also was a subject of multitudinous complaints from drivers.

    In an effort to deal with some of its issues, I tried a new approach with its schedule, giving each trip its own running times between time points that corresponded to how much time each segment took drivers to actually drive it over a period of a few weeks. Drive times vary primarily due to differences in traffic conditions and weather conditions.

    The same tactic was applied to the 217 and 218 with startlingly good results.

    The logic behind this move is simple: it's better to have a schedule that's a little convoluted but more or less accurate than an easy to remember schedule that's always wrong. If you ever ride the 217 or 218, you'll know that even though the schedule was predictable, the bus was only on time (within 5 minutes) about 75% of the time, and most of the time it was barely within that 5 minutes.

    All that said, some of the changes to the 213 were pretty strange. The changes are perfectly data-driven. But the data itself is suspect. I believe that there are on-the-road- and driver- issues that corrupted the data used in the decision process.

    The next step is an effort at data collection that provides better data, which will lead to more reasonable adjustments.

    Greg Platt, Transit Planner, SLBU

  3. This may be a stretch, but it reminds me of the 850 back in 2011. The problem at the time, at least for me, was that the 850 was always getting to the Transit Center late and missing the 830 and 832. UTA had made some adjustments to the schedule previously, but in 2011 they made a rather drastic change: 9 minutes from 800 South State in Orem to the Transit Center Southbound, but only 4 minutes Northbound. A funny thing happened: the 850 Southbound went from always being late to being so early that we got to the Transit Center in time to see the 830 BEFORE the one we were supposed to catch pulling out. So, I still had the experience of watching the 830 pull out in front of me, but at least I got to school when I was supposed to. It's as if there was a tipping point: always late, always late, always late, always late, EARLY-EARLY-EARLY. I don't know if that's remotely what's at play here (this was a peak-hour 850; I'm not sure what would cause the 213 at 10:16 a.m. to be so late; then again, I have never ridden the 213 at such a time, so there could be something, I guess.) It will be interesting to see what the result of the schedule is for this change day.

  4. Last night I formulated an exceptionally thought-out comment, only to lose it in the process of posting it. . . I have mustered the will to type it once more.

    Greg, I thoroughly appreciate your offering insight on the 213. I guess what alarmed me at first was how arbitrary the schedule changes seemed, but if it's data-driven I suppose it makes sense. However, that 10 am trip I mentioned is going to be holding for time like it's nobody's business. And that's generally not good. Passengers get uncomfortable—murmurs of "uh, why in the world is this bus driver not moving?" or something to that effect permeate the bus. People perceive the bus ride as slow and plodding, and perceptions count for a lot. Drivers are tempted to leave their EOL late, knowing that they can make up the time later down the route. This creates missed connections.

    Another route that should be considered for data-driven schedule changes is the 21. In December twelve minutes was added to almost every outbound run—to the U, in other words. This was desperately needed during the AM rush, as Foothill Drive and 2100 East would get mighty congested (mostly by single-occupant vehicles driving to school. . . sigh). Two issues with this: A) the twelve minutes were added evenly over the entire route, when really it was only necessary beyond 1700 East or so, and B) most of the rest of the day really did not need twelve minutes added to the schedule. Problem A resulted in buses still arriving to the U late, while problem B forced the 21 to hold for time at almost every timepoint outside of rush hour. The first time I took the 21 post-December change day, we held for time five times and nine minutes in total. And I boarded the 21 at 900 East. Needless to say, I've avoided taking the 21 ever since. It used to be such a wonderful, speedy connection to the U.

    But, Greg: Although I complain, do know that I appreciate the thankless jobs that planners have. We're fortunate that we have to talk about the select few routes that have issues, as opposed to many. Thanks once more for offering your insight.

  5. Heh. Also, speaking of the 217 and 218. . .

    This came online today.

    So much for the service overlay. Interesting that now there will be one continual corridor of service from 1700 North to 8000 South. I surmise that the 218 will now only travel from Sandy Civic Center to West Jordan City Center. Hmm. I wonder how often that'll run, and whether Saturday service will remain on this new 218.

    I doubt the F514 ever received much ridership in the areas from which it's being eliminated, so. . . eh.

    Greg, any other changes we can anticipate in December? More service improvements?

    1. Maybe schedule adjustments to the 21? :)

    2. I wouldn't be too sure about that. Saturday and Sunday schedules were changed to mirror the forty-minute configuration this last change. So there's that. . .