Monday, July 7, 2014

832TH POST: THE 832

Those of you that have taken transit in Utah County in the last few years, or have read about transit in Utah County in the news in the last few years, or have vicariously taken transit in Utah County through the regular perusal of this blog in the last few years, know that transit in Utah County in the last few years has been the agony and the ecstasy of transit.  Don't get me started about the BYU thing again.  FrontRunner came on the scene about a year-and-a-half ago, opening bold new frontiers of car-free travel even as it broke many fans' (and now, former fans') hearts by never coming when it was supposed to and missing all the transfers except the ones that really weren't meant to be transfers (every time I went to Provo for the first two months of FrontRunner South, the only bus that was waiting at the station for me was the 831, which was supposed to be fifteen minutes off the Provo Station arrivals so it could hook up with Orem Station instead.  But it accidentally was the only thing you could transfer to if the train was ten or fifteen minutes late).  The crazy expresses from all over the county got replaced with sedate new local routes that, well . . . I'll come up with tactful ways to put it in the next few posts.

But of all the things that have changed in Utah County in the last few years, the 832 is sort of the poster child for how things have gone.  Just look at this mess:

I once had the 832 described to me at a public hearing as "probably the most efficient route in the entire system, per trip," and I believe it.  Back when this blog started and I always caught the 831 home from BYU campus, I always used to watch the 832 pull up several minutes before the 831 was due, load up with inordinate numbers of college students, then pull slowly away up the hill from the weight of all the bodies inside.  I used to count how many people got on each bus (there; I still do that now, just not at BYU anymore) and it was not uncommon for the 832 to have five times as many people board as the 831.  Then, as I will not visit again in this post, the BYU transit situation rather spectacularly imploded.

When FrontRunner South opened, the 832 changed a bit--it no longer went directly past the student housing areas that had once filled it to the brim; weirdly, you could always get a seat all to yourself, even during the height of rush hour.  The most recent change (leading to the route shown on the artfully crude sketch above) was to add the old 830 route though Old Mill and Carriage Cove so that the 830 could pretend to be the BRT route.  As far as I can tell, this added more people on the bus but also made it so that the 832 doesn't go anywhere in a straight line.  This would be helped out a lot if the bus could just go straight down 9th East instead of making an outrageous loop clear around the outside of BYU Campus, but, as a few residents of the Tree Streets have taught us, sending the bus up that stretch of 9th East would bring the demise of the traditional family, the four horsemen of the Apocalypse, and the ascendancy of Vladimir Putin as world emperor.  Better not do it.

(Never mind that the 830 already runs up and down that stretch of 9th East every 15 minutes all day long)

Finally, we now have good reason to believe that the 832 will change yet again, this time to go to many more student housing areas than it currently does, including Wyview and 450 North as well as Old Mill and Carriage Cove.  I found some pictures a while back (I didn't make it to the public hearing), but I'm not sure where to find them again--the change day information will be out in at most a couple of weeks now, so everyone remain calm.  I hope the change helps.  I hope lots of BYU students flock to the 832; it will certainly be better service than the wretched student shuttle BYU currently endorses.  But I'm not holding my breath for 70 people to get on the 832 at once any time soon.

The 832.  It reminds us that there have been times when transit worked really, really well in Provo--and there are still a few of us holding out for the day when it works really, really well again.

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