Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Bus Assignments Need Work

Many years ago I had a close family friend who drove for the Southern California Rapid Transit District. It was not uncommon for the RTD to put a 30-foot bus on a route that should have nothing but a 40-foot bus and would have 40-foot buses on a route that should have only 30 foot buses.

The problem at the time was that the RTD had such a diverse fleet, many different types of buses, from many different sources so it was difficult for them to insure the right bus was on the right line. Of course this was in the days before they high tech computers of today.

Today UTA has a much more standardized fleet than the RTD back in the late 70's early 80's, but seems to have the same trouble with assigning buses even with the advent of computers.

A perfect example of this is route 22. This route is one of the busier routes the UTA has, yet many times it is assigned 35-foot low floor buses. It is bad enough that the low floor buses reduces seating capacity, then you add the fact that you are using a smaller bus often leads to standing room only on the route north of 3300 South. I can see running low floors on this route but they should only have 40-foot buses on this route.

There is no reason why this cannot be done. In fact if you ride the same route every day you will find that often you will ride the same bus number every day. When I road the route 24, I road the same Orion V buses on the regular basis. The other bus I rode was usually assigned bus 9222. So why can't they make sure the routes that need the 40-footers have them?

The situation is gets more ridiculous when there is special events going on. When the American Public Transit Association had there national meeting in Salt Lake, a rodeo was held for bus drivers across the country. Many of the newest Gillig Advantages was pulled from revenue service carrying their customers and used them instead for the rodeo. During this time I rode another very bus route line 37 which runs to Magna. This is another route that runs with standing loads on many runs. Because they wasted buses on the rodeo, they had to assign 35-foot ski buses to this tripper. Not only is the bus smaller but several sets of seats are removed for ski's.

Why? They wanted to show off for APTA and showed how they could care less about their customers that ride with them every day. Why couldn't the rodeo use the ski buses which are sitting anyway? It would make much more sense to use the ski buses on the rodeo and keep the other buses on their regular assignments for their PAYING customers.

The sad thing is that UTA is one of the better transit agencies when treating the customer. However, it is clear that there still needs to be changes at UTA to make it more customer friendly. If it is going to attract the option riders, UTA needs to reinvent is service.
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