Tuesday, March 25, 2014

811TH POST: THE 811

I have to start this post with a confession: I know that the 811 used to go at least as far south as Spanish Fork, but I have no idea how; all I know is from after I started riding the bus in 2003.

I have to continue this post with a confession: I know that the 811 used to run one trip in the morning on Sundays from downtown Salt Lake to Sandy Civic Center, then continued the regular route.  But I forgot when I drew these (hopefully artfully) crude sketches and things have been a little topsy-turvy lately and I had to hijack the binder that had my route sketches in it for a recent musical endeavor and I honestly don't know where my sketches are and I'm really not feeling like looking for them right now.  So you get a sadly incomplete version of everything the 811 has ever done.  Sorry.  All three of the people who once caught the 811 from downtown Salt Lake at 8:36 in the morning are mad at me now.

The history of the 811 could be described in one word:


Once stretching from Spanish Fork to downtown Salt Lake (some old route signs still say "Utah County Salt Lake Shuttle," last time I checked), the 811 now stretches from Orem to Draper.  In the time that I have ridden it, the southern terminus of the 811 has moved from East Bay to downtown Provo to Canyon Road to UVU (!) and most recently back to the Transit Center.  The 811 used to be the fastest way from my apartment near the Provo Library to the Transit Center; alas, this is no more.  (Now it's the 830, which is a fair bit faster than it used to be . . .)  The northern terminus has likewise moved from Sandy to Draper recently (not that I would mind, if I still took the 811 regularly; that last stretch on State Street from Draper to Sandy was at times excruciatingly slow).

Dedicated transit freaks will also remember the 816, a hybrid of the 811 and 850 that used to get back to Provo after midnight--first six days a week, then only Saturdays, then quietly slipping out of existence around the time I moved right next to an 816 stop (the curse . . .).  The 811 still ran until 11:00 p.m. after that (you had to leave downtown Salt Lake at 8:45 p.m. to get home) until FrontRunner South happened; now FrontRunner runs pretty late, but the last 811 leaves Draper before 8:00 p.m. on weeknights.  As someone who rode the 811 many late nights, I can attest that this is probably okay: most people on the 811 that late at night were just trying to get across the county line.  However enticing State Street was in American Fork and Lehi, it just wasn't where most people were headed.

The 811 used to be crazy busy during the day when it was the only thing running between Salt Lake and Utah Counties and only ran once per hour.  I passed many a droll afternoon trying to read textbooks while standing and holding on to a bar with one hand as the bus driver whipped around the corners in the attempt to arrive at Sandy somewhere near the posted time.  In the couple of times I've ridden the 811 since FrontRunner South happened, it hasn't been very busy, which honestly isn't very surprising.  Recently though, stops have been added and a few new trips have popped up in the afternoon, which isn't really the sign of a route in a death spiral.  Interestingly enough, now that the Utah County expresses have gone the way of all the earth, the 811 is mostly MCI's.  That would have been nice back in the day . . . oh well . . .

Writing about the 811 has made me nostalgic for all those college commutes.  Maybe I should ride it one of these days for old times' sake--


  1. I am wondering if other long local routes like 470 & 455 may get shortened like 811.

  2. I think it will probably happen eventually, but maybe not anytime soon. There are so many special trips and variants of both routes--my take on it is that it is easier to just add a special trip on the 470 to serve a new stop, rather than create a new route. I think it will take a pretty big change to split some of those special trips off into their own routes, which would probably also entail adjusting/shortening the 470 and 455. But I do think it will happen eventually.