Saturday, June 28, 2014

831TH POST: THE 831

The 831 was my bus for longer than any other bus had been my bus.  I took it here, I took it there; I took it everywhere it went, which, back then was 9th East, BYU, Provo College, and BYU.  It was a short, six-minute hop from the Provo Library to the Wilkinson Center (it could be a less-than-one minute hop to the Tanner Building if we hit all the lights right).  I have wandered my way through Grandview on my way back and forth to Orem uncountable times (sometimes four in one day, leading me to think I needed a new hobby).

Of course, when I first moved to Provo, the 831 wasn't my bus; it went down 7th East and I lived eastward of 9th East.  Then, when I moved near 7th East, the 831 switched to 9th East.  I wasn't super torn up about it, because I had the 830, but it took a long time for the 831 and I to become friends.

My first encounter with the Anal-Retentive Bus Driver--the one where he grabbed my shoulder and yanked me backwards to tell me I was holding my pass at the wrong angle--happened on the 831.  In case you're wondering why I don't get along with him, that's why.

And then, of course, came the epoch of my life in which I took the 831 every day.  For a long time I wondered about its viability as a bus route, until I came to the realization that I was literally catching it in the place where it was the emptiest--turns out it used to transport quite a quantity of BYU students up and down 9th East, and quite a few people from all over to UVU, just not very many people except me from the Library to BYU and back.  The first time I got on the 831 at Wal-Mart during rush hour and saw that it was standing room only I just about dropped my groceries--good thing I didn't, since I had to stand with them until we got past the student housing on 1430 South.

The 831 used to always be so empty through Grandview in the evenings--one night I got on to do some late-evening shopping at Wal-Mart and ended up chatting with the bus driver to keep her awake.  I was the only passenger on the bus the entire time.  She thanked me when I got off.  I'm glad I could do my part.

Then the BYU pass stopped being a thing, and the 831 was busy near UVU, but not so much near BYU anymore.  Then FrontRunner happened, and the 831 became way too popular for its own good at UVU, to the point where UTA is planning to split the route in two this coming August.  At the same time, the 831 stopped visiting BYU campus proper altogether, though it does now go through student bus paradise (Old Mill and Carriage Cove) instead of the 830, which results in the bus being weirdly full all the way through Grandview even though no one is getting on and off.  This appears to be true even toward the end of the night when the old 831 was all but dead.

The two things that have remained the same about the 831 even through all the changes are that it never seems to be able to go to the Transit Center and that it never seems to go very far in a straight line.  This will probably always be true as long as the 830 and 850 remain the workhorses of Utah County--the 831 has to be there to fill in the gaps, and frankly, the gaps don't go very far in a straight line, either.  But quietly, unassumingly, the 831 has always been there to take you down the road somewhat less traveled

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