Monday, December 28, 2015


So the bus was a little too on time today, there being almost nobody on it and very little traffic on the roads this morning. I missed it from just a few feet away, and when the other 209 came going the other direction it was followed by another man who came around the corner and stood looking off into the distance for a bus he clearly thought was still about to come.

All in all, I waited about fifteen minutes for the bus--I know this only because the 209 is supposed to come every fifteen minutes at that time of day; it was far too cold to actually check my watch or get my phone out.

As I was waiting for these about fifteen minutes, I started noticing the light from the nearby traffic signal shining on the snow near my feet. The complex interaction of the signal light with the streetlight above my head combined with the angle of the ground upon which the snow was resting, filtered by the shadow of my physical presence made the light shining on the sides of the footprints in the snow look almost burgundy when the light was red, and a cool minty color when the light was green


Tuesday, December 15, 2015


During my sesquipedalian commute to work yesterday, I found myself waiting for a bus on State Street downtown. State Street downtown is on an incline, for those of you unfamiliar with its geography; that it is inclined is never more apparent than when it is snowing and cars are sliding out everywhere. I'm generally in favor of helping these people (my Dear-stupid-Provo-driver radar is suspended on such occasions), and in fact I and a complete stranger with whom I had been sharing my sizeable umbrella helped someone pull away from the curb just after the experience I'm about to recount:

(Don't be fooled by what I've just recounted--I'm still a misanthrope when it's not snowing)

The 451 from Tooele pulled up. It had surely had a long and arduous journey to get to State Street, which was not improved by the fact that it couldn't pull away after letting people off. The wheels spun and spun and the bus went nowhere. Very demoralizing.

As I mentioned above, I'm not against helping people out in this situation, but I'm not sure I ever want to stand downhill of an MCI on an icy road, so I contented myself with watching in consternation. Imagine my surprise when a man who had been shoveling snow on the sidewalk dropped his shovel, ran over, and pushed on the corner of the MCI bus until it successfully pulled away and continued up the road. All of us who were waiting for buses observed this in utter bemusement. I thought about snapping a picture, but it seemed classless to photograph someone else working that hard, and I would have had to take my gloves off, so I forbore.

When, after a life age of the earth

the 200 pulled up, I observed this same man a couple of blocks away helping a produce truck pull away from the curb.

Later yesterday I would shovel heavy, wet snow for about two-and-a-half hours, followed by redoing my driveway this morning (including everything the snowplow threw onto it). My whole body was tired, and as I tried to walk to the bus stop this morning over all the snow that people hadn't shoveled off their front walks, my legs protested: "Dude, you're going to have to take better care of us if you want us to go this fast ever again." I missed the bus I was intending to catch because I couldn't walk fast enough (fortunately, the buses were pretty on time this morning). I can't imagine shoveling snow on multiple blocks of State Street and then even imagining I had enough energy to push an MCI.

My respects to this man. Someone give him a medal before he hurts himself.


So, yesterday. What a day, huh? It's so hard to remember when it's not snowing that it snows in Utah.

Yesterday I left for work about 40 minutes earlier than usual. I got to work about 40 minutes later than usual. Work was like counting the survivors after a natural disaster. I was far from the last one to arrive! Naturally, a number of people complained about their drive to work, as people who drive to work during a snowstorm will. But I hope that amongst our complaining we all remembered the people who left for work three hours before I got up, so that they could drive through a snowstorm all freaking day.

Yes, I'm talking about the bus drivers. On my bus to work yesterday, a couple of people were like, "Why are you so late?" and the bus driver, to his credit, calmly gestured around as if to say, "Good sir, were you not just standing out in the middle of the reason I am so late?" Seriously, I get that it sucks to stand in the snow for a half hour; I've done it. But I don't hold it against the bus driver.

And, can we have a moment of silence for the UTA twitterpeople? who knew when they woke up yesterday morning that they were going to have a very long day even after their long journey to work?

(observes moment of silence)

I'm ridiculously grateful I didn't have to drive yesterday, and I'm grateful to those who did so I didn't have to. And if you'd like to not drive next time it snows like the dickens, well, you know who to ask.

(I'll be waiting)

Saturday, December 12, 2015


The other night I walked home from the grocery store, which is likely to be a thing of the indefinite future because Prop. 1 didn't pass in Salt Lake County.

(Those of you whom I hold personally responsible, you know who you are)

It was cold and raining that night, and I was carrying five laden grocery bags and an umbrella. Fortunately I was not holding a gallon of milk with my bare fingers, but my fingers were exactly one skosh less impliable than if that had been the case. I got to the door of our humble abode and rang the doorbell because I wasn't sure I could unpry my fingers to operate a key in the lock.

commutergirl answered the door and gently chided me for inadequately protecting myself from the cold. I answered with false bravado, because I am a man, "I used to do this all the time, you know."

To which she responded, "You're not young and single anymore."


I refuse to believe I am an old man.

Wednesday, December 2, 2015


A few days ago I got a new phone. Hooray.

I used this phone to flag down the 209 the other night, because it was dark. I was unfamiliar with the bus-flagging-down capabilities of my new phone, but after a cursory glance (as the bus was approaching) I decided that the peachy color of the default lock screen would suffice, and I began waving the phone animatedly in graceful arcs through the air in front of my person. I was vindicated when the bus pulled over to let me on.

The bus driver said amiably, "Even though it was dim, thanks for the light."

I'm pretty sure he was just making conversation, and he certainly didn't have to thank me, but a small part of me was like, dude.

I'm the BUSNINJA. If I didn't want you to see me, you wouldn't have seen me.

Thursday, November 19, 2015


It's been a rough couple of weeks for my psyche--circumstances largely outside my control have led to large amounts of controversy, anger, and heartache regarding the church I love, the transit system I love, and the marriage I love,

(Yes, complete strangers on the internet have been arguing about my marriage. It's a long story you probably don't know about if you don't know me personally. Eventually there will be a link on this blog to that story, but not for a while.)

all of which has contributed to a general feeling of discontent with sundry humanity, such that I can't sleep at night; not to mention that Baby

Yes, that Baby
has decided lately that he doesn't need to sleep at night. I worry that he'll turn out to be an insomniac like me, and more immediately I worry that my bad moods might affect him; but whatever the reason he has decided that going to bed is for chumps and that nighttime is for spreading books and toys and diapers and clothes into artfully messy patterns on the floor. And he does it for hours. The only way to get him to not do that is to stay in the room with him, also for hours, and constantly remind him to get back in bed and put his head on the pillow and not kick his legs and not run around and not tip things over and not get things out. We've tried being nice to him, we've tried being mean to him, and neither has worked. So tonight I decided to be business to him.

There's a negotiating tactic I've had to use in the past with particularly inattentive, manipulative, or agenda-driven individuals in my life. It's simply to hold ground and not respond to anything they say on their terms. Baby is two-and-a-half and is not currently capable of malicious inattention, manipulation, or agenda-drive, but when used benignly this tactic seems to work on him as well:

Baby: daddy i need to get up
Me: Lie down.
Baby: daddy how was your day
Me: Lie down and I'll tell you.
Baby: daddy i need a glass of water it will make me feel better
Me: Lie down.
Baby: daddy i need a glass of water it will make me feel better
Me: Lie down. When Mommy comes in we'll ask her to get a glass of water. Lie down.

Eventually Baby gives up and lies down. It's painstaking work, but when I do it right I get my way and Baby doesn't get his feelings hurt.

Tonight, on about minute forty-five of Baby's hour-and-forty-five-minute journey of discovery toward sleep, I had an epiphany. It all kind of came together, and it gave me the strength to magnanimously tell Baby to go to sleep for the next hour. You see, I realized that my current predicament with Baby is not unlike much of the public's predicament with UTA.

Baby, having learned to sleep the night at an early age, is used to his parents saying good night and leaving him alone. At some point he realized he could do stuff while we weren't watching him, and now that we're trying to train him out of it, he's taking it really hard. All he wants is for Daddy to go away so he can do what he wants. The problem is, while nothing he wants to do is a bad thing (there's nothing inherently wrong with reading a book or arranging stuffed animals in a semicircle), it's not the thing that Daddy wants--for him to go to sleep.

I keep waiting for the UTA scandal octopus to die, but it keeps turning out to be a hydra instead, growing two heads for each one that gets cut off. And people can argue any perspective they want, but the fact is that nothing anyone has tried has worked so far. Media coverage of UTA is certainly unfair. That Proposition 1 can pass in Tooele and Davis counties, but not Salt Lake County, certainly speaks to local journalism's insatiable fetish for trumping up inconsequential circumstances into public crises; but it has not stopped certain individuals at UTA from positively gift-wrapping them scandalous-sounding stories that vindicate UTA's enemies and embarrass their supporters. I have wondered in the past whether these individuals were in complete denial, or whether they were simply so arrogant as to feel completely above public opinion; but now I think they're probably just toddlers waiting for Daddy to close the door so they can get back to what they were doing before. There's nothing inherently wrong with a train up a particular canyon, or a trip or two to Switzerland, but the problem is, it's not the thing the public wants.

The reason so many people are willing to accept so much abysmal journalism about UTA is not, in my opinion, that UTA is substantially more corrupt than any other public or private institution; it's that people have a value conflict--they perceive that their money is not being used for what they want it to be used for.

So I propose that I am willing to stop yelling about this. Being nice doesn't work. Being mean doesn't work, not to each other, not to UTA. So let's be business.

Me: The bus needs to come every 15 minutes on the west side of Salt Lake City, and run after 9:00 p.m.
UTA: We already tried running late night service and it didn't work.
Me: The bus needs to come every 15 minutes on the west side of Salt Lake City, and run after 9:00 p.m.
UTA: Look! Mountain Accord is super important, and we need a train to serve the ski resorts.
Me: The bus needs to come every 15 minutes on the west side of Salt Lake City, and run after 9:00 p.m.
UTA: Look! We built 70 miles of rail 3 years ahead of schedule and $300 million under budget. You should be thanking us.
Me: You may need to change some of your priorities, but the bus needs to come every 15 minutes on the west side of Salt Lake City, and run after 9:00 p.m.

Me: The fare structure is too complicated, and the fares are too high.
UTA: Our fare structure guarantees maximum equity for all income levels.
Me: The fare structure is too complicated, and the fares are too high.
UTA: We'll take a look at it, but it'll take a few years, so leave us alone, okay?
Me: The fare structure is too complicated, and the fares are too high.

If UTA is willing to resolve some of the value conflicts its customers are experiencing (and UTA's customers include people who don't ride, but pay taxes), it can reduce its public perception problems, and its customers can feel better about the tax money they give to UTA. The only person that wouldn't be happy is the one journalist who has literally made a career of reporting bad things about UTA, but I don't care about him.

Tuesday, October 27, 2015


Despite technically being the closest route to where I live, the 213 is mostly useless to me, since I don't attend the University of Utah nor often visit Union Park; even if I did, I literally couldn't return home after 6:00 p.m. on a weekday (5:00 p.m. on a Saturday), so I don't often find myself doing it. But occasionally, I do take the 213 for, shall we say, research purposes . . .

If I take the 213 to work, I have to transfer somewhere at the U; nowhere is completely convenient, but one of the more interesting ways to do it is to switch to the 2 at the U Hospital. I confess that the off-peak commute perversely fascinates me

(don't worry if you didn't understand that; it's not that important, and explaining it wouldn't help)

and I'm always interested to see how the 2 in the "wrong" direction is doing in the mornings, so I've done it a few times since moving to Sugar House. As I mentioned in the post that arguably set me on the path to marriage, I'm very conscious of when to pull the cord, but I've realized that when I make this particular trip I have to suppress my usually trustworthy cord-pulling instincts. You see, one day I got it wrong.

I pulled the cord too early. When I err in cord pulling, it's usually on the too-early side.

Unlike most times that I pull the cord too early, however, I betrayed weakness this time, allowing the word "shoot" to softly escape my lips as I remembered that we still had to pass the stop at Primary Children's Hospital before getting to University Hospital.

(The word really was "shoot." I don't say the other word all the time)

As he could only be expected to, the bus driver stopped at Primary Children's and magnanimously waited for someone to exit the bus. And as can usually be expected, no one actually needed the bus stop for Primary Children's.

(That's not anything against Primary Children's as a medical institution; it's just that the bus stop is in an awkward spot and it's actually easier to use the Medical Center TRAX Station or the U Hospital bus stop. Just throwing that out there.)

It being decent early and I being fatigued, I decided not to try to explain from the very back of the bus; the bus driver figured it out pretty quickly, and magnanimously continued on to the University Hospital stop.

I was willing to forget about it after that, except that at this juncture one of my fellow passengers turned to me and said, snippily:


at which point I became extremely annoyed at her cheek at pointing out a minor error that is committed by many and that, given the speeds at which buses have to enter the loop at the U Hospital, cost everyone on the bus at most three seconds. I briefly considered several harsher things to say, but finally decided on


which sounds quite meek until you remember that I have no poker face;

No, no, I said I have no poker face

Q: How do you wake up Lady Gaga from her nap?
I'm pretty sure that my annoyance was writ large, and that my attempt at an even tone of voice came off a touch menacing. In any case, she hasn't made eye contact with me since.

Granted, I don't take the 213 that often.

Wednesday, October 21, 2015


Dear stupid Provo driver:

By all means, do keep honking at the train gate. Perhaps if you keep honking, the gate will come up sooner. Because it clearly depends on how much you honk.


Wednesday, October 14, 2015


Today on my bus ride home, I was perusing CityLab, like I do, when I came across a couple of articles about the San Francisco area

(where I was, recently, on business; holy mother of cypress, what traffic. The freeway was stopped for, like, 50 miles outside of the city. Traffic was backed up for at least half a mile at a light in the middle of the vineyards. Why? Why? I would go nuts. Even if I had to ride a really crowded train, the train would be moving . . .)

and I remembered that we don't have it so bad, in Utah. Not so bad.

"Any idiot could run a transit system better than UTA," I hear around here from time to time, as the speaker smugly waits for me, or the rest of their audience, to express appreciation for their groundbreaking epiphany. Maybe. Except these idiots, apparently. Turns out, transit-for-profit is harder than it looks. I don't think it's impossible--I've toyed with the concept myself, when no one else is around to judge me; but I doubt even my cushiest imaginings would attract many techie-bros, and it certainly wouldn't cover as much territory as UTA does with subsidy. And anyway, why should we talk about transit fending for itself economically when roads, bridges, and freeways are all subsidized by tax money? Let them charge drivers a daily toll for their usage, and we'll just see how well transit does . . .

UTA likes to brag that the FrontLines program came in $300,000,000 under budget, to which many respond, "Oh, congratulaaaaaaaations! Way to inflate your budget and come in under!" The intelligence of six-year-olds is referenced for comparative purposes. The budget may well have been padded, and while there are a few things I wish UTA could have done with that money they didn't spend (double-track all of FrontRunner tops the list, but there are oodles more things I can think of), it could be a lot worse. A lot worse. "The public, of course, wasn't pleased," states the article, with more restraint than I've ever had in my entire life. The fact is, even with padded budgets, a lot of public works projects cost a lot more than originally planned, and take much longer than originally scheduled. You may not agree with much of what UTA has done over the last 10 years, but you should be very encouraged that the service that was added this past August was paid for within the existing budget, and no service was cut elsewhere to pay for it.

We have a long way to go before we have a transit system that meets all our needs. But we don't have it so bad, here in Utah.

(I'm still gonna bug y'all about that night service though)

Tuesday, October 13, 2015


The other day when the bus didn't come for a while (there's nothing inherently unusual about this) I was mulling over the deep things of life, like how the 220 is uphill of me and the 209 is downhill; how I have known this since I moved over a year ago, and yet seem to have a hard time using it to my advantage. Surely, I thought to myself, I could engineer my life so that I catch the 209 in the morning and the 220 in the afternoon, even though I often do the reverse.

And then I realized that your grandpa could be right--if he took transit. It is possible to walk uphill both ways.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015


Well, another Change Day has come and gone. I admit I've seen more people on the 220 than I expected, meaning that I don't see fewer people when I get on the bus in the evening now that the bus is running more often after 7:00 p.m.

(Ideally, that's what you want: more people on more buses, or at least the same number of people on more buses; what you don't want is the same amount of people spread across more buses. Unless you're the kind who wants to take up five seats by yourself, in which case the 220 may not be the route for you)

Then there's the 470. I confess I have not taken the 470 since Change Day, though I will probably take it at least once tomorrow. Having noticed that the 470 was going to add another new variation (going to Layton Station instead of or in addition to Clearfield), I suddenly needed to know just how many different versions of the 470 there were going to be. The answer may shock you:


12 Northbound and 10 Southbound. Of course you want to know what they are.

The current 470 is truly a marvel of transit complexity, and a lot of people certainly take it, but looking at all this confusion

(I could have turned this into a matrix that would have been easier to read, but I wanted to impart some of the confusion that the average person feels when consulting the schedule)

I can't help but wonder if some of these special trips need to turn into their own routes. Is it time to kill the octopus?

Sunday, August 16, 2015


A few days ago I went to catch the 220 and there was a sign on the bus stop.

It reads:

UTA is pleased to announce the following service improvements beginning Sunday, Aug. 16

  • 15-minute weekday service on routes 54 and 220
  • Improved Saturday service on routes 470, 603, and  612
  • Sunday service on routes 6, 39, 45, 54, and 516
  • Extended Sunday service hours on TRAX
 Log on to for more details

I'm not sure which part shocks me more: whether that UTA is adding service without cutting other service, or that there is a well punctuated sign that actually announces the service increase.

(Personally, I would have put a colon at the end of the first sentence, but I'll let it go)

My feelings about some of the less articulate signs I've seen UTA put up in the past should be relatively obvious. As for signs that actually advertise the service, well . . . last year I took a picture of this sign:

In the first place, worst comma ever. Even worse than this one.

In the second place, this sign makes it sound like a service decrease, does it not? You would never know from this that the 45, which also serviced this stop, was going from 30-to-60-minute service to 15-minute service all day, nor that the part of the 228 that was getting shortened (the route was not eliminated) was covered by the new, improved (I mean old, restored) 45. If you were a loyal rider of UTA who didn't check the website (which is apparently a lot of them in Salt Lake County), you would walk away thinking that UTA was screwing you over again, instead of employing a respectable amount of ingenuity to increase the bus service on 45th South without increasing the overall operating budget or cutting other service; and you'd probably vote no on the referendum. I wanted to burn this sign with fire. Or amend it with a sharpie. Unfortunately, I had neither fire nor a sharpie with me that day, so I forbore.

I can't speak to exactly why the stop advertising for past change days was so poor, but I do know of a similar example: online textbooks at BYU.

As an office employee who worked in the back corner of an office in the back corner of the basement, I wasn't privy to a lot of administrative politics, but as far as I could tell the Textbook department was inhabited entirely by obstructionist dinosaurs who enjoyed being the perpetrators of as much student suffering as possible. As a student I stood in the hour-plus lines that had to stretch all through the textbook shelves because there wasn't enough space to accommodate them near the registers; I also interacted with hundreds of students who had just waited in those lines when I ran an extra register at the beginning of each semester. And I watched for years as my department, which (among other things) handled phone and online orders, forwarded phone calls and emails to the Textbook people so they could explain to them why they couldn't place a textbook order in advance. I'm not sure what answer they got ("no demand?" I'm calling you!), but it probably wasn't the real one: it was a change, and it would probably mean more work.

Then one year, somehow, it was agreed that the BYU Bookstore (so-called before subsequent rebranding) would accept textbook pre-orders on their website, but that they would not advertise for them. An inconspicuous link was added to the main site navigation, and a handful of textbook orders were received. At this point the Textbook department argued that there was no real demand for online textbook orders, and we should give up trying to make them a thing. At which point my boss's boss somehow convinced them that we should try again but advertise this time. Just once. If it didn't work this time, we would completely abandon the project. So posters and flyers were created, and textbooks were featured on the front page of the Bookstore website.

I may have played a small part.
The response was overwhelming. It was absurd. It was more than even the most ardent supporter of online textbook orders had predicted. We had to cordon off a corner of the textbook floor just to house the boxed orders. The director of the bookstore sent out a memo that all full time employees had to spend one shift that week helping to fill or hand out textbook orders (students still had to come to the Bookstore to pick up their order, so no shipping costs were incurred). Their long-declining revenues suddenly and dramatically reversed, the Textbook department raised no further protests.

(Since the school year is about to start again, let me be the one to tell you, if you don't already know, that BYU Store is not actually funded in any part by tithing money. So, complain about the price of textbooks all you want, but save yourselves and them the trouble of hashing this out.)

I can't say with authority that the same kind of thing happened at UTA; but it seems that in any industry, when customers don't get what they repeatedly want, it's because it will cause an administrative employee somewhere to have more work. In any case, whoever is doing the change day signs should probably keep doing them.

Wednesday, August 5, 2015


Many of you in the greater Salt Lake City area noticed that a few days ago there were a couple of days where the air was replete with mayflies. There was a news story about it one night; commutergirl and I marveled at the volatory insects that filled the air around the reporter's head. Then the next day I was waiting for the bus stop and they were flying all around my head. It was quite unnerving.

The bus came. The driver said, "What is with all these bugs everywhere?"

I said, "I don't know, but they're driving me crazy."

He said, "There's one in your beard."

I'm sure the scene that followed was funny to watch. Eventually my frantic scrabbling successfully removed the offending insect from my facial hair and deposited it on the floor.

I looked at the bus driver. He looked back at me. I left the bug on the floor and walked away. The bus driver didn't say anything. Bus drivers are, in general, a pretty unflappable bunch.

That was one thing they never told me about beards.

Monday, July 27, 2015


This morning as I waited for a 2 that was not moving on the map, a yard waste truck pulled up right in front of me and loaded some grass clippings up into itself with great fanfare, if by "fanfare" you mean "ruckus."

I was already annoyed because the yard waste bin was hanging out with some of its friends right in front of the bus stop and I was having to invest more effort than usual in remaining visible for a bus that was not moving on the map, and said fanfare didn't help. I didn't realize there was more to come.

As the truck gingerly set the bin back down and pulled away, my nostrils were accosted by a beguiling combination of clearly-several-weeks-old grass clippings and diesel exhaust. I've not been so intrigued and revolted at the same time in quite a while.

I didn't realize there was more to come. I checked my phone one last time, and still seeing the 2 at the same intersection where it had been for the last three minutes, I did the only thing I knew would get the bus to move: I walked a block and waited for the 220 instead.

When I got to the 220 stop I checked my phone. Judging by where the 2 was, it had started moving as soon as I had. Of course. Of course it got downtown before the 220 did.

I didn't realize there was more to come--when I did, eventually, get to work, I was momentarily panicked by the fact that it smelled like a small mammal had crawled up into the ceiling tiles and died. Anxious lest the smell of the yard waste truck had stuck to me permanently, I hid myself in my cubicle and devoted myself to my spreadsheets in silence.

But that was it--nobody was sure what the stench was, but it wasn't me. The rest of the day was actually pretty peaceful. Nothing wrong with a little spice to add to the beginning of your day.

Monday, July 13, 2015

Monday, July 6, 2015


Right now, some of you are happy with America and some of you are not. Those of you who are currently happy with America have probably been unhappy with it at some point in the past. And all of you will be unhappy with it at some point in the future. Don't take any of this personally; I'm including myself in this last category as well.

I just want to remind all my fellow Americans that last Saturday was the 239th anniversary of the signing of the Declaration of Independence. In contrast, Hitler's "Thousand-Year Reich" only lasted 12, and the Soviet Union dissolved 74 years after the October Revolution. We're not perfect, but we've made it through a lot. And there's no reason we can't make it through a lot more.

If you're currently dissatisfied with America, you should get out and volunteer. Vote. Be a good neighbor. Take transit (it can't hurt, and might make you a better neighbor anyway). If you're currently satisfied with America, do those things also--it'll make it easier when you next become dissatisfied.

The answer to the original question, "Oh say, does that star-spangled banner yet wave?" is


Tuesday, June 16, 2015


So, yes, we rode the bus on Memorial Day. Were you expecting anything less?

We first took the 21 to go to the zoo. The 228 doesn't run on Saturdays, and the 3 doesn't go anywhere near anywhere near where we live, so it was just easier to take the 21. We were the only ones on it for a while--the bus driver said that there had been people on the bus earlier in the morning, but that the rain had kept people inside for the last half-hour or so. I guess if it's Memorial Day, and the bus is coming every half-hour, you can afford to wait for the next one if you so choose.

We asked Baby what his favorite animal at the zoo was, and he said "Grampa." The bus driver had a good laugh about that.

Later that day, we took the 209 downtown and the 220 home (downhill both ways!) and both buses were about as busy as I would expect for a normal Saturday, which is to say they weren't full but they weren't nearly empty either. There were seventeen people on the 220 at its fullest point.

I can't speak for how the rest of the Wasatch Front felt about public transportation that day, though I have heard from a reliable source that there were lots of people on the 830. As far as we were concerned, though, it was lovely to have service on Memorial Day, and we've already got ambitious plans for the Fourth!

("Ambitious" might be a little strong.)

Monday, June 8, 2015


Watch this video.

Do a little good today. #SimplyServe
Posted by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints on Monday, June 8, 2015

Then go there.

(on routes 21 & 213)

Then do something.

Saturday, June 6, 2015


To the gentleman who said, "It's just a f****** bus ride," when the driver asked for payment:

When you walk up to the counter at McDonalds and they ask you for money and you say, "It's just a f****** hamburger," do they give you a hamburger?

Just wondering.

Friday, May 29, 2015


As Baby learns new things about life, we learn new things about Baby. Like that sometimes it's good to hold back what the surprise is when we go out.

It happened that we went to Wheeler Farm a couple of weekends ago. When we got there there was a huge line for the barn, stretching out the door and down the sidewalk all the way to the parking lot.

I blame Daniel Tiger.

Almost every two- and three-year-old in the valley was there
The parking lot was, of course, completely overwhelmed. It's a bit of a hike from the 209 bus stop to the barn, but we were definitely not the people who walked the furthest.

And of course everyone in the parking lot was completely civil.

It made me wonder why more people didn't take the 209.

Looking at this picture, you might be tempted to theorize that Baby and commutergirl was nobody else on the 209. This isn't quite true--I, for one, was taking the picture
(for the record, I know why more people didn't take the 209; I just respectfully disagree with them)

When we got there and saw the line, commutergirl and I of course lost all desire to be there. We carefully checked Baby's nonverbal cues and it appeared he was just excited to be there, so we nonchalantly walked past the barn and out to the animals. We had a pleasant time seeing goats, cows, ducks, geese, and sheep, and we scrupulously avoided the mention of tigers. We got lucky. Baby didn't remember.

(Later that day, while we were grocery shopping, Baby made choices that resulted in his not being eligible to go to the "ice cream store" afterwards--and he yelled at us all evening about it. Guess you can't win 'em all.)

Another parent I know who also went to Wheeler Farm that day gave me some good advice: keep the surprise. He told his daughter that they were "going to the park." When they got there and saw the line, they freaking went to the park. No lucky dodge necessary. We'll keep that in mind, because Baby isn't likely to forget more things as he gets older.

(Until he gets really old. But I probably won't be worried about it then.)

As we walked back to the bus stop, we passed the same line, hopefully populated with different parents and toddlers, but still just as long. It began to rain. And as we walked past all the cars waiting to get out of the parking lot, that same old thought came to my head:


Thursday, May 21, 2015


So yesterday I rode the 811.

It started with a brilliant trip down the bustling streets of Draper

Observe the bustle!

and a distressing junction with a certain freeway that I thought I had bid farewell to forever.

Observe the lack of hustle

After getting over the Point of the Mountain, we were about ten minutes behind, and stayed that way (I could see the screen). I had forgotten that part of my life where the bus being "only" ten minutes behind was a fortuitous circumstance. I had forgotten how much I hated sitting on a bus in stop-and-go traffic that stretched as far as the eye could see in both directions. I had forgotten the urgency of realizing that you might not arrive at your destination remotely close to the time you intended.

I earnestly worried for the mental health of the people who do this to themselves every day.

The current 811 is much faster than any previous version. Seems a shame it was only for eleven people.

Eventually we got to the Transit Center in Orem, after which the bus looked like this:

Your eyes do not deceive you.
I had forgotten how many people are anxious to cut off a bus on 2230 North in Provo. I hope you all enjoyed that extra three seconds you gained by cutting off the bus, at least until you lost it again at the next traffic light. The driver and I traded a few dry remarks about people who cut buses off. There honestly wasn't much else to do. Few people used that stretch of 2230 North at the best of times, so I wasn't shocked that nobody else got on before I exited the bus near the temple.

Honestly, if this is what the 811 has become, it's probably okay it doesn't run more service. Though it does feel a little odd that it's the only bus going past the temple now. Somehow I get the feeling that this situation won't be permanent; heaven knows the buses have already changed around many times in Utah County. All in all, it wasn't an unpleasant experience; just a strange relic of the bustling 811 I used to know.

Of course I took FrontRunner home.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015


Well. It finally happened. The other shoe finally dropped.

Today UTA announced that they will be making a major investment in expanding service that wasn't included in a rail line opening (because those were actually expansions in service, btw), including on several bus routes, which you all know is my soft spot, even though I frequently use and love TRAX and FrontRunner.

UTA has been saying for years that they were going to focus on rebuilding the bus service that suffered during the rail openings as soon as they were done. Those of us who take note of such things have been anxiously anticipating every such development, and treasuring every nugget of information that gets passed down about a service increase. There have already been a number of them:

FrontRunner added more half-hour trips in both directions in February 2013, though this did necessitate the changing of, like, every single bus schedule ever.

FrontRunner on Saturdays went from 90-minute service back to 60-minute service, as was the scenario before FrontRunner South opened.

Route 217 was reborn, extending 15-minute service into Jordan Meadows and providing earlier and later service on Redwood north of 78th.

A number of Flex Routes were created or expanded, including F504, F522, F526 (which became the 526 because it was too awesome), F94, F570, F578, F590, F518, F546, and F547; several of these routes now have better service than current or previous 40-foot bus service in the same parts of town!

Routes 664 and 665 began servicing Hill AFB.

Routes 9 and 17 were restored to 30-minute service all day on weekdays, and were lengthened to loop around the whole U of U campus.

Route 45 was restored to 15-minute service, with a greatly expanded span.

15-minute frequency was extended on Route 612. Route 650 was added between the Ogden Transit Center and WSU.

Route 850 was upgraded to 15-minute service, and some evening trips were added, using money that had previously been used on the extremely empty 832 and 835. Apparently this change has been very successful in its first few weeks of life.

Which brings me to the extremely pleasant subject of today's brief:

TRAX will extend its Sunday hours of service to match Saturday, and the S-Line will increase its hours of service to match TRAX 7 days a week. Both have been major sticking points in that they prevent (allegedly) large groups of people from using the transit system more fully. Whether this will create an algal bloom of ridership caused by everyone living near a station selling their cars and relying solely on transit, or just give ridership a little bump from little-used Sunday evening service, I'm for it. With the S-Line running later, I won't pine quite as much for later 21 service, though I still think late-night 21's are a good idea.

Route 54 will move to 15-minute service, and Route 220 to 15-minute service all day. In the past, frequency changes (like the 850) were announced without broadcasting the span improvements; I'm hopeful this is the case here as well, though the 220 already has about the best evening service in the system nowadays.

Route 2X will increase the number of trips it runs in the morning, hopefully to connect to FrontRunner in both directions, and maybe free up some room for more local trips on Route 2.

Routes 603, 612, and 470 will increase Saturday service, with the 603 and 612 joining the 200 as the only 15-minute Saturday bus routes, and the 470 running every half-hour instead of every hour. I can't speak for the 603 and 612, but I know the 470 can be a real chore on Saturdays, just like the 811 used to be when it was the only game in town.

In addition, FAREPAY will be $1.50 for buses starting July 1, and the Group Pass will be $10 instead of $15, which means you'll need to find friends every time you ride FrontRunner so that it will actually be cheaper than if you bought your own ticket.

There will surely be nitpicking on the social medias about how this route or that route wasn't increased; how TRAX will be "useless" until it runs 24/7; how UTA is an evil organization that grinds the face of the poor and stomps on widows; how these improvements are too little, too late to regain the trust of the wounded riding public.

I have my own opinions about what should and shouldn't be changed at UTA, but that's not the point.

The point is that we've seen little trickles of improvement since 2013; and this bigger change seems to indicate that we really, seriously are on the upswing.

This is definitely a change day I'll be rabidly anticipating.

Monday, May 11, 2015


Becoming a parent changed me forever. I see the world with different eyes than I did two years and twenty-six days ago--I appreciate things I took for granted a thousand times; I find joy, through my son's eyes, in places I never thought to look, because the world is continually new before him. I never knew I could love someone so much. I never knew someone could love me so much.

I never realized until Baby came along that I would someday break his heart. And I didn't realize it would be before his second birthday.

It was such a simple thing. Which, of course, made it all the more tragic. I left Banky on the train.

Banky is Baby's favorite blanket. We bought Banky before Baby was born; we figured Baby would be friends with the matching teddy bear that came with it, but he's barely given the bear a second thought. Banky, on the other hand, became one of his best friends; this is a child that, when he inevitably falls down, sometimes cries "Mommy! Mommy!" but more often cries "Banky! Banky!"

You can imagine what happened when I left Banky on the train.

It still gives me pause to remember how Baby ran through the house, crying "Banky! Banky!" How he wouldn't accept any other blanket, or pillow, or stuffed animal. How we ended up rocking him and singing and cajoling and soothing for three hours before he finally succumbed to exhaustion.

The only ray of hope was that I tweeted UTA and received confirmation that Banky had been found. The next day I went to the Lost and Found on my lunch hour, because that's the least you do when you leave your son's Banky on the train. I sent commutergirl and Baby a picture of Banky from my desk at work to reassure them that I would, in fact return home with Banky that day.

In the end, commutergirl and Baby met me at the door of my place of work, because Baby was tired and grumpy and there was no reason to wait any longer. As I handed Banky back to my son and witnessed their joyful reunion, I was finally free to muse on what a bad parent I was, and how this would just be the first of many times my son's heart would break.

And I felt a sad sort of peace, because I knew that someday, when it was something bigger, I would be there to help him through it. Because when someone opens up a new world of light and wonder to you, it's the least you can do.

Thursday, April 23, 2015


A few weeks ago I was on the train with Baby, as we do. Baby, as you know, is adorable; so much so, that passerby often feel the need to express how adorable he is; and I, despite my well cultivated misanthropy, have learned to accept such remarks more or less graciously.

But when someone decides to talk to me for ten minutes about how cute my child is, I feel my limits are being pushed.

As with most talkers, he had no intention of actually communicating any information. I know this because Baby actually tried to talk to him, and since Baby's conversation starters generally consist of

You watch Thomas show?

You watch Elmo show?

You watch Thomas show, Island of Sodor?

he was completely confused and instead, because he had the compulsive need to talk, just kept saying how cute Baby was, in slightly different ways, over and over and over again.

It took an unusual number of avoided eye contacts and one-word answers, but he finally got the hint and left. To the other side of the car, where he began talking to another stranger about how cute my child was

and then topped it off like a stupid alcoholic cherry with the remark "That guy, though. Kinda sinister, like maybe he's not really his dad, y'know?"

Because the only reason I wouldn't want to make small talk endlessly with such an exceptional conversationalist was if I had abducted a child.

The rest of the trip was, for me, an exercise in acting natural, since apparently this doesn't come naturally to me.

“Many things--such as loving, going to sleep, or behaving unaffectedly--are done worst when we try hardest to do them.” --C. S. Lewis

It was a long rest of the trip for me, though Baby seemed none the worse for the experience.

When I got off the train with Baby in the stroller a couple of stations later, of course this man got off at the same station and we made eye contact on the platform.

Without even meaning to, I sent him a glare that said

I am everything you think I am and worse

Go ahead, say I'm not his father to my face

If you tell me how cute my child is again, I will throw you off a tall building

He started, and looked down after only a millisecond of that glare. But after that, believe me, I kept that glare on him until I had completely walked past.

Because I may be kinda sinister, but I am Baby's father.

Friday, March 27, 2015


The other day I was riding the 2 to work, which is slightly faster than riding the 220 to work, even though I have to transfer from the 209, because I don't have to bless the U with my presence on the way to work. We were stopped at an intersection where there also happened to be a bus stop. A man who was sitting near the front of the bus got up and walked all the way to the door--not to the white line, mind you, but all the way to the door, as though he were about to get off. Which was odd, because neither he nor anyone else had pulled the cord, universally regarded as the signal for wanting to get off the bus. Or so I thought.

The bus driver regarded him humorlessly. "Did you . . . want to get off?"

"Yes," the man replied. "That's why I said 'ding ding!'"

The driver had not been amused before, but now the air was thick with his unamusement. I, on the other hand, stifled a giggle.

The driver sighed. "You can't just say 'ding ding.' You have to actually pull the cord . . ."

Unimpressed, the passenger gestured toward the door, as if to say, how much more obvious do I need to make it?

"Whatever." The driver let him off.

Several of us on the bus had a good incredulous chuckle after that.

Thursday, March 19, 2015


In order for the (admittedly dubious) assertion in the title of this post to make sense, the gentle reader needs to understand two main points.

First is that Brigham Young, Prophet and second President of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, saw Ensign Peak at the entrance to the Salt Lake Valley in vision long before the Mormon Pioneers arrived there;

and that, upon arriving at Ensign Peak, he had a vision of what Salt Lake City would look like in the future:

“While gazing upon the scene, . . .  he was enwrapped in vision for several minutes. He had seen the valley before in vision and upon this occasion he saw the future glory of Zion and of Israel, as they would be, planted in the valleys of these mountains. When the vision had passed, he said: ‘It is enough. This is the right place. Drive on.’”


The second is an interesting, relatively unknown bit of Mormon history: that the Saints had their own alphabet for a while.

Though mostly the domain of hobbyists today, the Deseret Alphabet was widely taught in schools, used in newspapers and editions of the scriptures, and still appears on the odd gravestone. There is a building somewhere at This is the Place State Park that has a sign in Deseret on the front; I couldn't tell you which building it is, so you'll just have to get on route 3 yourselves and go look.

Now that you have internalized all this information, you will understand the outcome of my idle wonderings the other day: surely "the future glory of Zion and Israel" included Saints by the hundreds exiting trains to enter Temple Square and the Conference Center; surely as Brigham Young contemplated this vision later, during the great linguistic enterprise that was the Deseret Alphabet, the signs at the train stations would have been so written.

(Purists should note that I use the word "surely" to mean "in the idlest of speculation;" this is a flight of fancy and should not be interpreted as any kind of assertion of doctrinality, intimation that the Church has gone astray by not continuing to use the Deseret Alphabet, or prediction of Mormon supremacy at the expense of all other religious and secular communities in the Salt Lake area. I just wanted to point that out beforehand in case I get hate mail over this, of all things.)

I liked the image. And so, I give you:


(Purists should note that I subscribe to a very minimal interpretation of Deseret phonetics: I don't use any of the letters as stand-alone syllables, and I tend to leave off unstressed schwa sounds on the grounds that you have often to pronounce them anyway when moving on to the next consonant. I also use "short i" for a lot more things than most people probably would, if they cared. I am selective in my anachronistic Deseret usage. For the record, there is not standardized spelling of anything in the Deseret Alphabet; I just wanted to point that out beforehand in case I get hate mail over this, of all things.)

So, UTA, are you suuuuure you don't want to use it as your official map now?

Monday, March 9, 2015


For those of you who are keeping track, which, I admit, is probably not most of you, my fourth wedding anniversary approaches;

now that we have been married forever and are the best of experts at it, we have decided to use the knowledge we have acquired about each other during these years for good rather than evil--

at the beginning of the year we decided that we were old and fat and that we could only modify one side of that equation, so we started a weight loss contest. This involved, for me, eating like a normal person, which is the equivalent of a diet for me; and for both of us, better exercise routines.

All of which we had tried before, so it was time to raise the stakes.

I hate tomatoes. I have tried to love them, and I recognize that many other people in the world love them, but to me they taste like death and destruction and ruin. commutergirl, on the other hand, hates hills. She doesn't go east of 13th if she can help it. There are parts of this state she will probably never visit, and a certain temple we will probably never visit again.


So, obviously, if I didn't make my goal, I would have to eat a tomato pie

food network

and commutergirl would have to take the 11 all the way to the top of the Avenues.

Motivated by our extreme fear of tomatoes and heights, we set ambitious goals to lose weight. And we've accomplished great things, if I may say so myself.

But neither of us met our goal. Does that mean we have to do those things now?

We'll wait until after the anniversary.

Thursday, March 5, 2015

863TH POST: THE 863

It will not be news to many of you that the 863 started out as the 853, then underwent a few transformations without changing its basic mission. Why the number changed, I don't know.

The 853/863 have always serviced Adobe from the Lehi FrontRunner station, ever since there was Adobe, and ever since there was FrontRunner at the Lehi FrontRunner station (the FrontRunner station had been around for a while, but the 853 didn't start until FrontRunner service started. Technically Adobe was around before FrontRunner started--UTA ran a few special buses that said "ADOBE" for a few weeks from Sandy Civic Center, but then FrontRunner happened and everybody forgot about special buses). For a while they tried to service I.M. Flash as well, but that was apparently better left to a few trips on the 807.

It took UTA a while to decide exactly how to show the route on a schedule; for a while the Adobe/I.M. Flash trips were separated from the Adobe trips on the schedule (and they used different stops at Lehi station?!), which was very confusing because you had to look at two different parts of the schedule to find out that you could get to Adobe every half hour, but to I.M. Flash only sometimes. The current way (with all morning trips labeled as "to Adobe Xactware" and all afternoon trips as "to Lehi Station") is much clearer.

Last year the route was renumbered as 863 and all trips went to Xactware but none went to I.M. Flash. At some point along the way the F868 was removed from American Fork station and became the midday equivalent of the 853/807, but apparently that's going away next month--the F868 was never the shining star of the group, even among the flex routes . . .

I have seen the 853/863 disembark a few times at Lehi in the afternoon, and there were a fair number of people getting off it, so I would guess it's doing okay, probably aided by passes from such progressive companies as Adobe (or do I assume?). Anyway, it'll probably be around for a while, at least as long as the MCI's last, wink wink. We've got to put those MCI's somewhere.

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

862TH POST: THE 862

I bet you all thought I had forgotten about this.

A long time ago in the next county south from where I currently sit, there were many different bus routes that aimlessly snaked through Orem, providing excellent coverage but little utility. I couldn't even begin to describe them to you, since I've only seen a map of those routes once, and I didn't think to commit it to memory.


Then, around about 2000, when bus service in Utah County underwent its first rebirth, local service in Orem was congealed into a few routes you could almost count on one hand: the 811 and 830 on University Parkway, the 850 on State Street, the 831 on the southern end, and the 861 and 862, the fabled "Orem West Side" and "Orem East Side" shuttles. Their job was to cover all the parts of Orem that didn't have a lot going on (with the exception of the former Word Perfect campus) and connect to those buses that did have a lot going on.

I know that the 861 came every 45 minutes and the 862 every 30; that the 861 went from the Transit Center to the Home Depot on 12th West and 16th North and the 862 did the other half; and that sometime between 2000 and 2003 they were consolidated into one 862 that did the whole loop in both directions every half-hour. I know it was before 2003 because I saw the 862 once before my mission, pulling into the Transit Center with a sign that said "Counterclockwise." I thought at the time that counterclockwise was such a delightful direction for a bus to travel.

I was a bit disappointed, therefore, when I moved to Provo and found out that the bottom part of the loop had been taken off. I later understood that this reduced the number of buses needed to run the route from 4 to 3. For a while it came every 45 minutes on Saturdays, then every 60, then every 90, then every 120 . . . at the time of this writing it's back to 60, but in a few months I may look back and chuckle at my naïveté.

Back when BYU was a thing, the 862 was kind of the runt of the pack, and I've certainly made fun of it plenty of times on this blog (since I started writing, the record for "most people on the 862 at one time" is still seven, though I do remember times with more than that during the gas prices crisis of 2008). Now, however, it seems to be one of the better buses in Utah County . . . not because it's doing any better.

The main changes to the 862 in 2012 were straightening out both "legs." Shockingly, the 862 did not and still does not connect with FrontRunner and is currently one of only two routes in the whole county to do so. The couple of times I have ridden it since 2012, it seems to still be its usual unassuming self; always a few people, never very many.

Prediction? Oh, it's probably not going anywhere. If the ax ever did fall on Utah County again, there are about five other routes in line ahead of the 862. It will probably just keep on being its usual unassuming self for the foreseeable future.

Wednesday, January 28, 2015


We're almost a month into 2015, and nothing peculiarly earth-shattering has happened in the world of transit yet. But there's still time . . .

1. The price of gas will continue to fall, and SUV sales to skyrocket. UTA will start offering massive quantities of evening and night bus service, and even offer tea and crumpets on select routes, but to no avail--the buses will be empty.

2.  The sudden spike in car travel and fuel consumption will cause the usual haze along the Wasatch Front to thicken, and darken, until it becomes a thick black smoke with little chunks in it that never completely dissipates, even when it rains. Oh, and the chunks will technically be edible, though few people will eat them on purpose.

3.  The darkening haze paired with the sudden glut of single-occupancy SUV's on the road will bring traffic to a complete and utter standstill, leading residents to (out of sheer desperation) consider other transportation alternatives. TRAX has an unexpected ridership boom (people still won't have heard about all that bus service).

4.  Around this time the Salt Lake Tribune will sign up for employee passes with UTA. A decent number of them will ride TRAX to work, but they will go well out of their way to walk through the parking garage on their way from the platform to the office so that nobody will know.

5.  Yours truly will grow a beard.

Wait . . . I think that one already happened. Never mind.
 6.  In a tragic misunderstanding, the UTA Board will erroneously conflate the loss of revenue from the beginning of the year with the booming TRAX ridership from later on and recommend a fare increase.

At which point, you can start calling me Mormon, since I'll be chronicling the destruction of my people.

Here's to an eventful 2015!

Wednesday, January 7, 2015


After the opening of four rail projects within a year that mostly involved 2013, it was inevitable that 2014 should be completely different. And so it was. This past year we had to count our gains in baby steps instead of leaps and bounds. Oh, but we did make progress this year. Just when I'm about ready to give up on transit, there goes UTA, throwing me a bone.

(Okay, okay, that was a little melodramatic, implying that I would ever "give up" on transit. You should know me better than that by now.)

Early this year a certain locally prominent mormonmommybloggerhusband, having finally heard about the Provo-Orem BRT eight years after the first study recommending it was published, somehow came to the conclusion that public transportation was a gross offense against his neighborhood and, that same morning, dashed off a letter about it to the local papers. There, that fixed it--now everyone knew that buses were going to kill the traditional family.

(Full disclosure: I knew who it was when I wrote the response, but I purposely refrained from bringing it up, because that's not what it was about, to me.)

My response to this op-ed unexpectedly went slightly viral after getting picked up by a couple of online forums, making it, overnight, the most read post in the history of my blog (a distinction it still holds). I've never felt so validated.

Around the same time, a strange announcement came from UTA that they were adding bus service to Hill Air Force Base without cutting from anywhere else. I got excited.

In an even more starting turn of events, the signs on all the Blue Line trains were updated to be (gasp!) blue! I'm glad we could all take that step together.

April change day . . . happened? Did anything happen? Okay, let's talk about August instead. The 9! the 17! the 45! the 47! Especially the 45 got a major boost in frequency and span of service. I used the last 45 of the night (10:15 p.m.) to go shopping once. Then I moved, of course.

Also in August, Distance Based Fare, aka the Hope of the Free World, debuted in the UTA system near BYU campus. Some of us were optimistic, some of us were skeptical--but I don't think any of us could have predicted that BYU would

announce the expansion of its sponsored shuttle service to cover the very same area that the DBF pilot is covering. So much for that. I guess we'll see if the DBF part was successful, anyway.

Also in August a "blistering" legislative audit was published about UTA, the main result of which, as far as I can tell so far, is that those of us who play Lee Davidson bingo got to add a new square to our bingo cards:

I mean, unless I'm very much mistaken, "two-thirds of UTA" didn't get fired . . . ?

A bit later in the year, UTA broke ground on a new Transit-Oriented Development in Sandy, an occurrence praised by everyone except those who stand to directly benefit from it. Good luck, Sandy, in your quest to become transit friendly. I remain the eternal transit optimist.

The 2015 budget threw us a couple of bones, including holiday service on Memorial Day, Independence Day, and Labor Day; no fare increases; and the redirection of funds used on capital projects back toward operations. Sounds fun to me. I'm ready to be dazzled. Honestly, just "no service cuts" was quite a relief.

Finally, this year ended with the 15th Anniversary of the opening of TRAX. Funny, how the world didn't end when TRAX opened in 1999. Who knew that, far from crashing and burning in its first month of existence, TRAX would grow to carry tens of thousands of people around the city every day?

Maybe it's a good thing?

Good night, and happy 2015!