Showing posts with label public transportation. Show all posts
Showing posts with label public transportation. Show all posts

Friday, May 16, 2014

Riding Utah Transit Authority

From my childhood, I remember seeing and hearing trains.  I remember being excited whenever a train would pass on the road and we would have to stop and wait for it.  My brother, Patrick, and I would often count how many cars were on each train.  My parents didn’t seem to be as excited whenever the arms of the railroad came down. A child’s perspective is so much different than that of an adult.

 Mostly what we saw were cargo trains.  There were few encounters with passenger trains.   My grandma who lived in San Francisco would sometimes take the train.  We would go to pick her up downtown at the train station.  

 Patrick and I had also ridden on a train from Utah to Colorado.   We’d gone with my mom and my other grandma. I thought that it was exciting!  Especially going through tunnels.  And there were some LOOONNNGGG tunnels. 

As I got older, I don’t recall having seen or heard trains much anymore – and I don’t think it’s because I tuned them out.  I think, after a while, the trains didn’t run through our county like they used to. Salt Lake saw a lot of dead railroads. At least that’s my opinion.

It appears to me that UTA decided to make good use of the existing rails and add to them and build another form of transportation in addition to the bus.  The Blue Line train was up and running in 1999.  The public was given the opportunity to ride the new form of transportation for free.  Lines were long – but it was somewhat thrilling to be able to ride the train just to see where it went.  But we were allowed to go in only one direction.  Once we reached the end of the line, we either had to get back in line for the return or find another way.

I remember how crowded it was during the Christmas season.  All of the seats were full.  People were standing in the isles and hanging on.  The state street buses became deserted.  I remember my sister, Kayla and I had taken the train downtown, but decided we would bus it back as the train was so crowded.  I counted a total of five passengers the entire way from downtown to our street.  I don’t think it took any longer than the train did as I think the bus had only stopped twice between where Kayla and I had got on to the time we had gotten off.  I almost preferred the bus.


When we walked through the doors of the blue line train (though I don’t remember it being called blue line at the time) we had to walk up some stairs to get to the seats.  Ramps were located at each stop for the passengers in wheelchairs.  They would have to go to the top of the ramp to be let into the bus and avoid the stairs. 

TRAX didn't exist before Corey left for his mission.  I don't know how long it had been up and running before he returned.  I remember we were headed toward Patrick and Sunny's house.  Corey was driving when the arms came down.

"Oh, great!" he commented.
"It's not that bad." I replied. "The train is only two or three cars long.  It's not a big deal." Not like the cargo trains my dad had waited for.

It wasn’t until ten years later that the green line and red line were up and running.

Red Line goes from Daybreak – a point in South Jordan – to the University of Utah (which part was built in 2001 – but just from downtown at that time) and the Green Line (the one I use most) goes from West Valley to the Airport (Salt Lake International) and the Blue line is now extended out to Draper.

I take the train on occasion.  Mostly I’ve gone on the red line or green line, but on occasion have switched to the blue line (that is the one I needed when mom was still living in Midvale; I’ve also used the blue line to get to Sunny’s house and the post office) but have gotten quite spoiled with the other two lines as they don’t require ramps or stairs.  You walk in and sit down.  There is a ramp that folds out for those that need it.  I prefer not having to walk up the stairs to get to my seat.

I was told that on Saturdays the trains with the stairs are not used – that even the blue line passengers have the opportunity of using the trains that don’t require ramps and are all one level. 

I now prefer the train to the bus, but the train still does not go everywhere that the bus does.  But transportation in Utah has definitely improved over what it used to be.  And I am becoming more familiar with making connections and finding my way around.  I’m grateful to the improvements that have been made and continue.

UTA is offering a summer pass for the youth between 5 and 17.  Wish they had one for adults. Jenna has the option of using the front runner from what I understand.  I personally have never used it.  And I don’t know when we’ll get around to it.  I plan to spend the majority of our summer commuting to my sister’s house.  Kayla is expecting her third child in August.  It’s been a hard pregnancy for her and trying to keep her other two (almost four and two) in addition to pregnancy sickness IN SUMMER is a challenge and I would like to help ease some of that if I’m able.

Tonight UTA is sponsoring a bike bonanza which Jenna would like to attend.  As of now, I don't know if we'll be going or not.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Hope that Smoke was Worth the Fine!

Yesterday morning was quite interesting.  It started off with Jenna and me taking the bus.  We were running late and saw our regular driver zoom by before we arrived to the stop.  The other route was not so far behind him and so we were okay.

I had volunteered to be the subject of a hair specialist but was unable to make it to the designated area at the scheduled time and so the one who made the appointment offered to drive me there.  We agreed to meet behind Jenna’s school.  Turns out that Megan has the same sense of direction as my mom had, and so it took a while before we actually got together.  It also took a while to get her car turned in the direction we needed to go (as she was very turned around)

As we were headed to our destination, the hairdresser called to tell Megan that she had mono and NOT to bring me – though the message was not received until we were near the location.  I wasn’t bothered really nor did I feel put out and apologized to Megan for having gone out of her way to come and get me (I actually hadn’t known how far she had come to get me until we were on our way there) and she felt bad that I had wasted my morning.

I told her that I would have taken a train to the library and as the library doesn’t open until 10:00 I would have spent that time waiting anyway.  She offered to take me to the library but I had her drop me off at TRAX station instead. 

I exited the train at the time my appointment would have started.  I still had to wait for the library doors to open – even with the bizarre morning excursion.  After I picked up the items that had been placed on hold, I returned to TRAX with three minutes to spare before the train’s departure.  I watched a man talking on the cell phone. He had a cigarette in his mouth standing less than six inches from the “no smoking” sign.  Really?

Before the train pulled away he’d been approached by a kind police officer – or so it appeared.  The officer was smiling as he pointed to the sign.  I sensed that perhaps he was a smoker himself (or had been) and was not thrilled with the idea of writing this guy up.  The smoker, of course, was not happy. I don’t know if the officer was writing up a warning or citation.  The train pulled away as the smoker stood waiting for his identification to be returned.

UTA fines are heavy from what I understand.  I may have violated crossing where I’m not supposed to, but I was never sited for it.  I don’t know if they cite you for that or if they just enforce you to walk to the designated area for crossing.  I know they’ll cite individuals who cross the tracks while on their cell phones, I just learned about the enforced “no smoke” policy yesterday.  And I know that there’s a huge fine involved for those who can’t produce proof of payment. 

I’ve actually not had many opportunities in which I’ve had to show proof – maybe it’s because I don’t ride the train all that often.  But I have seen police at various locations boarding other trains – or perhaps the driver will pick them up at an undesignated stop – I don’t know.  With the few times I have needed to show proof , it seems like the enforcement officers appeared out of nowhere and then were gone just as instantly as they had appeared.

Jenna and I did see two police officers interrogating two youth or young adults rather.  One may have been nineteen but the other was still considered a minor.  I’m guessing the two rode the train without having paid and got caught.  After the citations were issued the one that must have been eighteen or nineteen (though I suppose she could have been older), she walked passed me and Jenna like it was no big deal. The other girl was humiliated and ashamed. She appeared to be in tears as she was escorted to the parking lot by the two officers who stood behind her watching like the Gestapo. I assume waiting for her parents or guardians to pick her up.

I can’t imagine any amount of money attached to the fine to be worth the ride or the smoke or talking on the cell phone or crossing at the wrong place . I do understand each of them and I’m grateful to know that they are being enforced.  Oh, I’m certain that there have been many who have gotten away with it.  Perhaps more than there have been those who’ve paid.  Some sadly haven’t had the opportunity to pay with money.  Some have sadly paid with their lives – which is why the rules are enforced.

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Ahead of Schedule

When I was younger there were two bus routes that I could catch on State Street near my mom's house.  The #7 to Highland or the #5 to Parley's way.  One of them went all the way to the zoo - but I don't know which one.

When I was working downtown, the route names or destinations had changed.  There were four busses that ran along State Street between 6400 and 100 South.  I could catch the 25 Midvale or the 22 West Sandy where I had caught the two mentioned in the first paragraph.  Or I could walk over to the mall to catch the 24 East Sandy or 12 Murray.  It wasn't that big of a deal to walk from 6400 to my mom's house.  And even though 25 and 22 were closer, I preferred the coming home on the 24 only because I didn't have to cross the street to go back home.

Thus far Jenna and I have been fortunate not to have to cross the street when we have ridden to school.  We even have the option of catching a bus near the school without having to cross the street. We do have to cross a busy street near our house however.  Don’t like that much.  And then there is the walking.

It’s too bad that we can’t take Highness with us.  I think he would enjoy the walks – but alas – no dogs allowed.  And there is no way that Highness would ever pass for a service dog.  What a hilarious thought.

So this morning we left the house earlier than on Tuesday (Roland was able to take her yesterday – and occasionally she may get a ride from Biff in the future – depending on how well he takes care of the car, or if it will pass inspection . . .)

I don’t know why three out of four of my kids find it necessary to be to the school 30 to 60 minutes before the first bell rings.  But Jenna really does get upset if she hasn’t been given over twenty minutes to play before line up.  When there are snow days and children are kept inside – guess who will go out to the playground if given a choice?

We stood between buses – and ended up taking the same one we had on Tuesday – so it did not get her to school any earlier.  But I am already at the bus for the return home when the first bell rings.

Right now the walk from the bus stop to the school is comfortable.  The air is not too hot. Not too cold.  Perhaps a little cool in the morning – but I would rather have the coolness (or the cold even) rather than scorching rays of the sun.  Jenna’s probably the opposite.  But for me it is perfect weather right now.

Anyway, the bus did come early.  Two stops later the bus doors opened while the driver and passengers waited.  Jenna asked why this bus wasn’t moving.  “It’s ahead of schedule” which is a rare thing – or at least it was before TRAX. 


 All bus routes have changed – due to construction – do to modernization and growth.  I think that they all go to TRAX at some point along their route.  But I don’t know.  Perhaps I’ll become more familiar with the bus system as I go, but for now I am very limited in my knowledge.

The stop where Jenna and I have been getting off and on near her school is in front of an assisted living facility – the first one I had looked into when my brothers were both in denial that mom would need to be moved so soon.  It was the least expensive of all those we had looked at.  But it did not have memory care.  Mom could have escaped from there quite easily.

I was told that the stop will be eliminated.  Right now the bus actually goes through SLCC   – but after December it will remain on Redwood and no longer through the campus.  Though I have seen students get off and on.  Perhaps it’s just not popular enough?  I don’t know.  

I was going to suggest we try another option when I pick her up this afternoon.  But as we will have to do it three months from now, I suppose there’s no hurry.  We’ll try the alternate soon enough.  In the snow. Hey, but at least we’re both getting much needed exercise. And it seems like more quality time than having her jabber on endlessly while I am trying to concentrate on the road.

Perhaps one day when I am gone, she will look back and remember this time.  And perhaps it will be more meaningful to her than it is right now.