Wednesday, November 27, 2013


A short while ago I was approaching the FrontRunner tracks at an at-grade crossing, when the gates started to come down and the dreaded dinging began.  It was not a FrontRunner train--it was a UP train, which means

We could be here for a while.

There were a couple of people approaching the crossing from the other direction, who, when the saw the train, were possessed of a sudden urgency to get through the crossing in front of it rather than wait for it to go by.  Like most Utahans, they decided that saving 15 minutes (at the most) was more important than their continued survival.

As they ran across, one of them gave me a smug smile and said,

I'm not gonna wait for that s***

I merely cocked an eyebrow at him, because, first of all, learn to express yourself; and second, how many people have to get hit by trains before you stop darting in front of them?  (One more, apparently.) His smile melted into slightly embarrassed confusion.

My ability to not smile back is not one of my more endearing traits.  As I slowly grow my soul back this year, I've tried to reserve it for situations where death or serious injury may be involved.

Thursday, November 21, 2013


The other day my co-worker came up to me and said, "You'll find this interesting."

(Spoiler alert: it was about transit.)

"This" was a hotel bill for a fancy-schmancy hotel in downtown Salt Lake, which will credit you $5 for showing your TRAX ticket at the front desk when you check in.

(For some reason, it seems like I should have a picture of the hotel bill here as proof, or at least as a visual aid.  But my co-worker didn't offer, and I didn't ask.)

Apparently it costs less for the hotel to reimburse you for your TRAX fare than it does to run a shuttle up to the airport to transport you.  And by "apparently," I mean obviously.


Tuesday, November 19, 2013


A while ago (my backlog of posts is getting longer . . .) I was at Salt Lake Central waiting for a bus.  There's nothing inherently unusual about this.

The 519 pulled in, as the 519 has been known to do, and an elderly man got off who had difficulty walking.  As he was walking from the drop-off place to the pick-up place, the 200 pulled away, as the 200 has been known to do.  He walked up to the benches under the awning and addressed the congregation:

"Damn.  I needed that 200.  Now I have to wait an hour."

(At first I thought he was exaggerating due to extreme bitterness toward UTA, on the order of people in Eagle Mountain screaming that it now takes them 4 hours one way to get to work.  Fortunately, I understood him better as I kept listening.)

"Oh, there'll be another 200 in 15 minutes, sure; it's the 9 that comes once an hour.  So if I catch the next 200 I'll be sitting there at State and Ninth for 45 minutes while the bus driver sits at the TRAX station."

I felt sympathy for this man.  He was already undertaking a three-part journey, and a missed connection makes nothing better.  Especially when you miss it by inches.

But as I thought about it, I realized that there were several ways that his journey could have gone more easily: he could have caught TRAX at Arena and got on the 9 at 900 South or Central Pointe.  He could have switched to the 200 on 300 West or 200 South.  Both of these would have required crossing the street, but certainly not more walking than he had to do at Central.  He probably could have walked over to TRAX and still made the 9 at 900 South (as long as it takes TRAX to go through downtown, it takes the 200 even longer), though I was hesitant to recommend such an ambulatory course of action given his mood at the time.

So I didn't say anything.  Given my feelings about unsolicited advice, I was following the Golden Rule.  But now as I write this I'm left wondering, could I have helped this man?

Monday, November 18, 2013

MAP 2.1

When I put Map 2.0 up a short while ago, the ever perspicacious Tim suggested a subtle edit to reflect the current state of affairs in the TRAX system:

While this amused me to no end, I should note that I still use Salt Lake Central almost daily, and I still see a whole lotta people pile onto the 2X in the morning.  But it is true that this is the first year since it opened that Salt Lake Central has only had one TRAX line, and that North Temple seems to be where a lot of the cool kids seem to be getting on and off FrontRunner these days (there aren't as many people waiting at Central, but boy those trains are already full when they pull in).

If any of you have gotten it into your heads to send this map to Transit Maps, don't make it this version, please.

Friday, November 15, 2013


I recently heard a bus driver compare driving downtown to playing tetris.  

I'd say the comparison is apt.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

MAP 2.0

A while ago I made a map.

Today I finished updating it.

I had to change a few things, of course.  It turns out that the streetcar is going to be silver, not yellow.  Which means that the "Silver Line" couldn't be silver, so it had to stay orange for now (since the Internets have not told me what color this line shall be).  But I made it very light orange, so that unsuspecting mapreaders will be less inclined to think that it is actually running, however good an idea that may seem, and however well it ties together the junction between Courthouse, Gallivan Plaza, and Library.  I also changed the description of Route 702 from "inactive" to "proposed" since it is no longer the old University Line as it was on the last map, and since I have seen rumors on UTA's social media that such a line is on the docket as early as next year.  This meant I had to take the Ogden streetcar off, since it too has been proposed but with no sort of definite timeline that I'm aware of.

I had a lengthy philosophical debate (it lasted several Brandenburg Concertos) with myself about whether to include the S-Line stations.  The debate went something like this: the streetcar is not technically part of TRAX or FrontRunner, so should I change the title of the map?  I don't really like calling it "TRAX, FrontRunner, & Streetcar."  Also, if there are going to be Ogden streetcars, and downtown streetcars, and lots of other streetcars, can we really show them all on the map?  No; it would have to be a separate, much more geographical map, and the TRAX/FrontRunner map would have to merely hint at the streetcars' existence for legibility's sake.  In the end I gave in to peer pressure and put them on because it seems like that was what everyone else was doing.  Anyway, if other streetcars do come into being, it probably won't be for a little while, so I guess we can keep the S-Line on there for now.

So there you have it.  The map, like its creator, is quite eccentric, but I like it.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013


Buses smell like different things sometimes.

(Click on the orange letters)

(No, they don't spell anything, because it occurred to me that that would be a fun idea after I just finished making all the links and I don't feel like going back and redoing them)

About a month ago I got on the 200 and it smelled like nothing so much as tea tree oil.  It was lovely.  So of course that bus would get in a crash less than a block after I got on it.  A car pulled out of a driveway into a moving 40-foot bus.  I have no explanation for it other than that the bus smelled like tea tree oil, and this upset the laws of physics.

We all trudged off the bus.  Some of us filled out courtesy cards, then we walked around the corner to catch the next 200, which smelled like unwashed yak.

Of course that bus made it all the way to Central without incident.  Fortunately the smell did not linger.

Monday, November 11, 2013


No picture could ever do it justice, but I tried three times.

Saturday, 5:15 p.m., from Meadowbrook Station.

Thursday, November 7, 2013


Tonight's first treasure comes by way of the Twitter, in which we see a victory for happiness and optimism:

There are so many gems here; I'll try to exercise at least some discretion:
  • "Insincerity to save face?"  Do you mean your insincerity to save face?  Or are we calling magnanimity in the face of truculence "insincerity" these days?  That could be indicative of a larger problem in our society . . .
  • "Let's just move on with our lives"?  You started it!
  • I think it's safe to say you have been vanquished by the sheer joyousness of the UTA twitterperson. 

Secondly, I now have incontrovertible proof that Lee Davidson uses Copy-and-Paste to write his "news" stories.  A while ago, the following typo appeared in one of his articles:

  • $2,0126 is not a number.
  • $2,376 - $360 = $2,016.  Clearly you stuck an extra "2" in.  It happens to the best of us.  But this typo still hasn't been corrected, 23 days later, despite the fact that the first ten or so comments on the article made fun of the typos in it.
That was bad enough.  But then the following appeared last week:

You couldn't proofread it the first time.  Then you copied exactly the same text into another article, and you couldn't proofread it the second time, either.  Go ahead, read it.  It's exactly the same between "Such" and "year."  Typo and all.  You should be ashamed of yourself.  You should have been "let go" instead of someone else.  And the editors of the Trib should be red-faced for allowing such drivel to last so long on their pages.  How can I take anything you say seriously when you are clearly trying to coast through your career by taking potshots at an easy government target, potshots that you can't even come up with anew for each article?  I find your lack of initiative detestable--unless it is due to some kind of extreme personal hardship, in which case you should seek help instead of spreading it around in public media.  I find the fact that the haters only appear on your articles utterly suspicious.  I think the only reason you still have your job is because you are blackmailing your co-workers or because your management is utterly incompetent to recognize bad journalism.  I've tried to give you the benefit of the doubt for months, but last week I gave up.  I hope you lose your job; if and when you do, I hear UTA is hiring bus drivers.

**catches breath**

Sorry, that was a bit much.  But it is in response to a bit much.  Here's a little lighter fare to finish off the night.  Did you know that Bitstrips has a whole page dedicated to "Commute?"

Not that I've ever done that.  Looked for them, I mean.

Of course, there's no bus stop with a shelter anywhere near my house.

I've never actually made it quite that far.

Monday, November 4, 2013


So this one time FrontRunner was late.

(Okay, it was a lot of times)

When I got to the FrontRunner platform on the way to work, I was met by a man in an orange vest who told me that FrontRunner was dead to us that morning and I should turn around and walk back to the TRAX platform and catch TRAX back the way I had come.

(I checked Twitter and, sure enough, there was a note about it.  Why does it never occur to me to check Twitter BEFORE I get on TRAX going the wrong way?)

Along with several other people, I caught TRAX and patiently rode it all the way to Salt Lake Central.  As we were getting off the train, a fellow several years my junior asked me: "Is that the train going north?"

There were two trains at the FrontRunner platform, and he was referring to the one on the northbound side, so I said, "Yes."

As I walked away from the station I saw him get on the train.  The train doors closed and, to my horror, I watched the train head south out of the station, the way we had just come.

(Dude, whoever you are, I am so sorry.  I really did think it was the northbound train.)

I was a little late for work.  I don't know what eventually happened to him.