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!

3 comments:

  1. So a few cuts http://www.rideuta.com/mc/?page=UTA-Home-AprilProposedChanges wonder where the new services will be?

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  2. Well, well, well. Looks like April change day is shaping up to be more interesting than December—probably the most tame change day in memory.

    I'm not too surprised about the 534. Folks probably didn't appreciate changing to a train and then changing again at Central Station, so I can imagine a slow decline in ridership since the 347 died. Also, "due to a need to redistribute transit resources to allow for higher ridership in
    areas where more resources are needed" makes me wonder just how much two eliminated trips on an F route will allow for other routes to receive increased service.

    The 811 continues its slow, painful denouement into oblivion. I knew this route was done for when I took it during rush hour once and there weren't enough passengers to fill an Optima—let alone an MCI. It looks like come change day the 811 will look more like the 817 in schedule and routing.

    Good news about the 850, though! Now I just wish they would route it via the center of Lehi on its way to Thanksgiving Point instead of having the route bypass Lehi via State Street.

    The death of the 832 and 835 was inevitable, I guess, since BYU will introduce free shuttle service in the fall. The 831 will continue to serve Carterville, so no big loss there. But what about Joaquin? With the loss of the 832, no buses will traverse 4th East. Unless a new shuttle route covers that neighborhood.

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  3. I think the 811, 832 and 835 combined will probably just barely pay for the 850--and even then the public hearing notice has a proviso about "operational feasibility and financial limitations." The 850 is loooong. Not as long as the 455 or 470, but I'm sure it's a hefty sum to get the whole route up to 15-minute service. I think it's worth it, though--the 850 is the second busiest route in Utah County, after the 830 (the second busiest route USED to be the 832, but that horse is so dead that its bleached white bones glimmer in the desert sun; it would be completely, totally absurd to continue beating it) and it's consistently busy all the day long, as I can attest from living on the 850 and working crazy hours.

    Hard to say where the extra Hill AFB service will go, but it certainly makes sense to run it out of Layton Station instead of Clearfield if you can provide the same number of trips with half as many buses. Maybe UTA is banking it for August Change Day so they can add more school service or something like. College service is the way to go these days, unless that college happens to be . . . oh, never mind.

    I won't really miss the 835, but the loss of the 832 without anything to replace it would be rather jarring, not just because of 400 East, but also because of the service to Provo Temple I. That area has been served by one bus or another ever since UTA arrived in Utah County--I'm sure that there will be an outcry if that service isn't replaced. Then again, the EA for the (apparently-happening?) Provo-Orem BRT calls the station at 900 East and University Parkway "Missionary Training Center," so maybe they don't intend to replace it.

    A vision just came into my head of an 831 that goes all the way up 9th East, then to the temple and over to Plum Tree, THEN down through Grandview and over to UVU. It would be the longest 831 ever.

    I agree that one trip in each direction on the F534 (or the whole F868, for that matter) probably won't make much of a difference, but maybe UTA just REEEEALLY needs that extra trip on the F578 or something. You never know!

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