Open townhall meeting for ideas to help UTA transit system

Today the citizens of Utah are being asked to contribute ideas for the improvement of the UTA public transit system.

1) Ok, where do I begin? Number one, the biggest deterrent to use of public transportation is the time schedules. They vary and you have to go online or have some way to know how long you might be standing at a bus stop. How logical is that?

Am saying it would make a little more sense to go with smaller buses that arrive at bus stops at equal intervals. Ten minutes or fifteen minutes, or even 20 minutes if funds are tight. The biggest deterrent is the wait, and the fact that if a bus is missed, it could be up to an hour wait or more for the next bus. But you don’t even KNOW that unless have access to a schedule.

So far every transit system has been treated like electricity, and the need to cover ‘peak’ times. But the peak times could be covered by then running a larger bus at peak times, not by changing schedules.

The entire “trip planner” thing has got to go. You need to put planning into the system itself, so that extensive planning is not required by a citizen to go from point A to point B. The way that things are now set up with bus schedules, it’s as if they are designed to discourage public transit. Think about that, and what it takes to encourage more people to buy more cars. And then think about the pollution situation in Salt Lake Valley, in large part caused by the skyrocketing number of vehicles on Utah roads.

You invest money on widening streets…and leave the bad UTA situation as it is for the sake of helping the big boy oil companies, that are the wealthiest corporations in the world already? Now I understand that kind of pandering, but the point of a government is to ensure the best choices for all of its citizens, not just the ones already swimming in money. After all, I’m really moved by the ad for Larry H. Miller and her expression of a family business that is so important to THEM. But give us a break, you’ve had your day in the sun. Salt Lake City needs better options. Blocking the sale of electric cars is just another flower on everyone’s grave. And not investing in mass transit for a better future, is digging those graves.

2) So let’s try to do the right thing. It’s not that hard to figure out better solutions. Better schedules is just one that stands out to me more than anything. That is the biggest deterrent for bus use. They are not predictable. But how about the fact that it’s a little nuts to have buses outfitted for wheelchair accessibility, but to have so few ways for wheelchairs to even arrive at a bus stop?

Got any idea how that panics poor people? Who know that they might have to be in a wheelchair someday and that means they can’t get around? As it stands now, losing your legs in Salt Lake City means you’ll have to be a shutin, either that or raise the money to support a private vehicle. And I don’t think that’s fair.

When I was a teenager in California, they built ramps into every single sidewalk. In Salt Lake City, you are lucky if you even have a sidewalk? It’s insanity, but that is what happens when car dealerships and oil companies come first. And I’m very serious about that. It’s all very impressive that you are in bed with the big boys, but let’s start thinking about what’s good for the people, ok?

3) No cloth bus seats or train seats…exclamation mark, period! Knowing a bright cheerful pattern is covering up the baby throw-up on the seat you have to use, is not very comforting for those of us who have an idea just how much is ‘hidden.’ Plastic seats that get hosed down once a day, please!

4) Reflector poles that a transit user must push up and down to get a bus driver’s attention is pretty much on the insane side. How about a fluorescent orange flag attached to the pole that can be pushed up to indicate that someone is waiting for the bus? Or better yet, push a button that signals on the bus itself that someone is waiting at the stop? IF that is needed. What is the incident rate of transit users missing a bus because the driver does not see them? I imagine it’s fairly small and that UTA implemented a line budget item for one squeaky wheel.

5) Another interesting thing is in regards to the sponsoring of bus stop seating by advertisers. So the places where the most seating for a wait are available, is on busy roads where buses are more frequent and the wait time is less. How insane is that? I mean, really? Anybody using their noggin’ there? It’s very disheartening. I don’t know the “fix” to that, but it’s very hard to see that without giving a large sigh for society in general.

6) And we are down to the bus routes, themselves. We have the technology to have every single person that is thinking of using public transportation, to weigh in via computer. WE DO. There is the capability to have a type of polling for data on where bus service is needed the most–a determined probability of users that need to get to work daily, or for planned outings. Yet the UTA buses are using route maps designed, I assume–according to who with power was living where, when they were first structured. And the kids are long gone, new families in the houses, even. Yet the bus stops deviate off of main roads to go in this complicated pattern that only makes sense if you chalk it up to preferential treatment from way back when. This was done in California, too–so don’t feel bad. I just believe it’s time to do a reevaluation with the technology that we have available. So take a poll, see who actually needs bus service on a grid, and determine better routes.

There can be a periodic revue of that. Why not? It will give you a line-item budget feature to replace things like reflective flashers and printing bus schedules (since if buses arrived at regular intervals, users would only need access to route map information, not constantly changing times).

And I guess that’s it, for now. If I think of something else, will see about adding it. I know some are major changes, but you asked.

Life is too short. Let’s clean up the air in Salt Lake Valley, get more people on the buses and trains, and find a future that is good for all PEOPLE, not just those supporting automobiles and in turn supporting our friends the big oil companies. It’s time the government did it’s job. Let UTA champion that.

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