Wednesday, October 14, 2015

YOUR BIENNIAL REMINDER THAT IT'S NOT SO BAD

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)

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