Wednesday, October 1, 2014

850TH POST: THE 850

Any hand-drawn map of the 850 must of necessity be somewhat diagrammatic

since depicting every turn in the road would require a level of detail few artfully crude sketchers are willing to invest time and emotional energy in. The 850 has always been long and, even though it mostly follows straight lines, can take a significant amount of time to get anywhere.

The 850 has changed a bit over the years. It was shortened from East Bay back to downtown Provo, then lengthened back to the Provo FrontRunner station when FrontRunner opened in late 2012. The routing was changed near the Transit Center at the same time so that the bus wouldn't have to make the horrifying left turn from State Street onto University Parkway going south.

(that particular left turn by itself used to occupy about half my time commuting on the 850 in the mornings)

Once UTA decided that the F868 would be a real thing for always, the special trips to UTDC/the Mt. Timpanogos Temple were removed; UTA made multiple attempts at bringing bus service into the heart of Lehi on Main Street, 300 West, 100 East, and 200 North; all eventually were retracted and the bus now just runs down State Street with the 811 before taking a slightly different path into the Lehi FrontRunner station.

(Yeah, let's not talk about how it went to the American Fork station for a few months.)

The 850 always did pretty good business, even in the pre-train days, and held its own with the BYU routes during the pre-non-BYU days; but having a FrontRunner connection on both ends seems to have done wonders for the ridership. When I lived in Orem I used to catch the 850 in downtown Provo to get home, and it would be mostly empty at the southern end; but now it gets a whole group of people at Provo station in addition to the people getting on in town, which at times makes the bus quite crowded.

(Yes, the empty socialist bus that no one wants. That bus.)

The one thing I want from the 850 that it doesn't give me is a connection from North Orem to the Orem FrontRunner Station. Currently the only direct connection is the 842, which, well . . . the 850 and 862 both require a transfer to the 830, which is okay until the 15-minute service stops, and, well . . . then it's better to just catch the 850 all the way to Lehi. And more scenic.

But even at that I think the 850 is a very good bus, and I hope it sticks around to serve us for a good long time.

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