Wednesday, January 28, 2015

FEARLESS PREDICTIONS FOR 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

2014 IN REVIEW

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!