Wednesday, May 13, 2015

WELL

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.

1 comment:

  1. Extra service on 470 will be welcomed. The 603 on Saturday can vary, but 612 from North Street to 40th Street is well used throughout the day. I have not seen updates on Provo-Orem and Murray-Taylorsville BRT, so more in Salt Lake and Utah counties might be later.

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