Thursday, November 29, 2007

Berlin Hauptbahnhof (Berlin Central) Station

Thank you to Transit Miami who first brought this to my attention. This video is about the Berlin Hauptbahnhof Station. Yes it's in German but very interesting none the less. The Berlin Hauptbahnhof Website says that the station handles 1100 Trains per day. That is just intercity trains and does not count the streetcars and light rail.

To put that in perspective the Salt Lake International Airport handles 900 flights a day.

UTA service cuts loom

UTA faces shortfalls in Davis, Weber counties

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Ultimate Speed Bump

I want to thank the Urbification Blog for referring to this video. Now if only they will allow these in the Salt Lake region!!

Miami Day 4...

OK, before I talk about day 4 here is a follow up from day 3. I mentioned the Blue Bird bus wrapped to look like an old streetcar, well here is the picture I took but couldn't find earlier. This is taken from route 282 which is laying over at the Palmetto MetroRail station.

My day started off at the Omni Transit Center. This picture was taken on day 3 since it was still dark when I left at 6:20am the day before the time change. I originally going to take route A which is the most direct route to the part of Miami Beach I was heading for. However, 6:30am came and went with no bus so ended up taking a Route S over to Miami Beach. Now the route actually has a number but they only go by the letter which I am sure can be confusing to some
I arrived at the Loew's resort where Railvolution was being held at 7:00am and head some breakfast and to get ready for my presentation. After my presentation I went into another session before picking up my box lunch. The final Plenary did not hold much interest so I decided to take a walk and get some pictures of terrific Art Deco architecture that I love and Miami Beach is know for. I must of looked pretty goofy walking around the Miami Beach area in a suit but oh well.

Here is some pictures I took:

Next I started walking north along the main drag. Here is a picture of the main Miami Beach shopping area and its classic business area.

Next I caught another Route S and took it up all the way to NE 195th and over to Adventura Mall. I saw many things to take pictures of along the way so I decided I would return tomorrow. The Route S remained very busy with a full load all the way from Miami Beach to the end of the line at Adventura Mall. The Adventura Mall is a transit center and very busy mall. The first thing I noticed is that while its nice that the mall allows the transit center, they need some work. When several buses were loading and loading plus cars going by created some bad congestion.

Next I caught a route 3 which would take me back to the hotel. I was hoping that I would see a Chinese restaurant on the way that I could come back to for dinner. The 3 bus finally showed up and was standing room only before leaving and stayed that way. I finally saw some Chinese restaurants along the way that I could come back to.

When we got to 125NE the traffic lights were out with no sings and no police directing traffic. We made it pass the intersection when the bus stopped and the driver said we have broken down, everyone off. So here is some of us waiting for the next bus that would come along.
The driver wouldn't say what the problem was but the bus still ran and he got back in with the A/C running. So he made his 50 plus passengers sit in the hot humid sun while he stayed in air conditioned comfort. That should be cause for termination right there. Talk about spitting on your customers.
The bus was supposed to run every 25 to 30 minutes but it was more than 40-minutes before the next bus came and it was even more packed than our bus was. The driver had passengers all the way to the front door and pointed us to the back door. About 5 people got on and that was all that would fit. The driver got angry that people were looking at them through the front door and started screaming he wasn't going to open the door.

Finally the driver of our broken down bus came over talked to the driver through the driver's side window then walked to the back door and saw that there was no room left. That bus took off and our driver once again jumped back into his bus.

After a little while longer a third bus showed up and although it was also packed, there was enough room for the people off our bus. We jammed on and had a pretty unpleasant ride back to my hotel.

While I understand that buses will break down, that is something you can't help. What made me angry was the way the drivers handled it especially our driver who kicked us off the bus and then stayed in his bus with the a/c running.

After getting back to the hotel I watched the Busch series race and Carl Edwards win the championship. After words I decided I didn't want another bus trip so I hopped on MetroMover to find someplace else to eat besides Burger King and Checkers that is across from the hotel.

I knew there was a McDonald's along the MetroMover so after seeing nothing else worth eating I settled for it. After words it was back on MetroMover to the hotel.

Deseret News Editorial

Transit's a priority — still

Cuts coming to Weber and Davis Counties?

UTA may trim Davis, Weber service

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Draper Corridor Scoping Open House...


The Federal Transit Administration (FTA) and the Utah Transit Authority (UTA) intend to prepare an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) to evaluate proposed public transportation improvements to extend fixed guideway transit service through the cities of Sandy and Draper to the southernmost part of Salt Lake County, Utah. The Draper Transit Corridor Project, as defined in the Wasatch Front Regional Council long-range plan, was recently identified as the preferred alternative at the conclusion of a locally prepared alternatives analysis. The EIS will build on the results of the local alternatives analysis and evaluate other reasonable alternatives developed through the scoping process.

The EIS will be prepared in accordance with section 102(2)c of the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 (NEPA). The purpose of this notice is to alert interested parties regarding the intent to prepare the EIS, to invite public participation in the EIS process and to announce that a public scoping meeting will be conducted. All interested citizens are invited to attend a public scoping open house to learn more about the project and provide input. The public scoping open house will be held:

Wednesday, December 12, 2007
5:00 to 8:00 p.m.
Sprucewood Elementary School
12025 S. 1000 East
Sandy, Utah

For further information contact: Kris McBride, Draper Transit Corridor Project, 669 W. 200 South, Salt Lake City, Utah 84101; (801) 741-8806; or More information can be found at

To assure full participation at this public open house, accommodations for effective communication, such as sign language interpreters or printed materials in alternate formats, or a language interpreter for non-English speaking participants, must be requested at least five (5) working days prior to the date of the scheduled event. Direct requests to UTA's ADA Compliance Officer for accommodations should be made at (801) 262-5626, Ext. 3536 or 287-4657 (TDD).

UTA YouTube Video

I was looking for any videos of UTA on You Tube and this was the only one I found. Interesting, apparently it was for a public relations class at the U and was done before TRAX opened in 1999. Funny listening to the guy say that he didn't think people were going to ride TRAX, but then again there was a lot of naysayers back then.


Originally uploaded by ASurroca
I mentioned the bus painted like a an old streetcar yesterday when talking about my journey through Miami. While I took a picture of it, I could not find it on my laptop so here is one courtesy of flickr.

What purpose the paint scheme has I have no idea and it seems kind of a waste of money. After all, who is going to think this is some old streetcar?

A now retired Metro-Dade Flexible Metro is ahead of this bus which was made by Blue Bird

Monday, November 26, 2007

County favors rail

S.L. County leaders still favor rails

The last time I checked, most of the people who voted on the tax increase did so in support of the TRAX lines. I don't remember it being all about roads despite what some state legislators are trying to push.

BRT in Utah County delayed...

Provo in line for bus rapid transit, but later than hoped

I love how they call it "TRAX on Wheels". Strange, I always thought that TRAX trains had wheels, just made of steel.

Portland Streetcar...

Since we have be discussing streetcars, here is a video of the Portland Streetcar.

Miami Day 3

Day 3 started out earlier than yesterday. In fact I was out of my room and at the transit center by 6:45am. I wanted to get an early start tomorrow in order to be ready for tomorrow when I had to leave even earlier in order to arrive at Railvolution on time.

Today I wanted to travel to the far reaches of the Metro-Dade system in order to get the best looks I could at the Miami area and its transit system. I took route 16 from the Omni transit center to the 163rd Street Mall. The route traveled along Biscayne Blvd, one of the main north-south streets then it travels NE 6th Ave, NE 125th Street/123 rd Street, NE 16th Ave, NE 159th Street, NE 15th Ave, then loops around the mall that is part enclosed mall and part strip center. The "transit center" is a area behind the mall with bus areas. Not a very inviting center to say the least.

My next route was the 91. I will not even begin to describe this route a s it zig zags along multiple streets, does a loop and makes a U-turn. Just like the 16 I drew another NABI low floor which are no better than UTA's Gillig Advantages.

This route does go by the stadium that the Miami Dolphins play in. I got off at the intersection of NW 82nd Ave and NW 186 Street and here you can see a picture of my 91 bus after having dropped me off.

Next I waited for the 282 bus which is also referred to as the Hialeah Gardens Connection. It was very fitting being from Utah that the corner was taken up by a large LDS church, one of two I saw on my trip.

This route goes through residential, office complexes, light industrial, commercial and finally heavy industrial areas before finally ending at the Palmetto Rail Station. This bus was the only non-NABI low floor I rode in all my Miami journeys. The bus was from Blue Bird and it was one adapted to transit use from a school bus. The bus was painted like an old trolley car but was not a trolley replica bus. However, the seats were high back cloth with nice cushions which made it the most comfortable bus I rode in Miami.

I originally planned to continue my bus riding from here but I looked down and saw route 41 but could not find a route 41 bus and it was supposed to leave in one minute. Then I looked again and I was supposed to take the 87 to the 41 but by the time I realized that the bus was pulling out and I wasn't looking forward to spending another hour on a NABI low floor so I decided to catch MetroRail down to Coral Gables, my next destination.

I got off the MetroRail at the University Station which is the home of the University of Miami. Here you can see a couple of shuttle buses I took a picture of while going down the escalator.

Here is another University of Miami cutaway shuttle passing the MetroRail Station.
Next I took the 56 bus to the Biltmore Hotel. Here is a picture of another 56 going by just after I exited the my 56 bus.

Here is a picture of the Biltmore built in 1932.
Next I walked along De Soto and took a picture of the Venetian Pools.
Coral Gables is considered a "walking community" but I will comment on that in the future. I left De Soto and walked down Andalusia/Biltmore Way, Segovola, Alhambra and the Ponce De Leon. Here is a picture of Alhambra Circle before it hits the business district.
I had not had anything to eat and since it was past 1:00pm, I was getting a little hungry. I was still craving Chinese like yesterday but did not have a lot of luck finding a place. I finally decided to hop the free Coral Gables fake trolley and take it back to MetroRail unless I saw someplace to eat along the way. The bus was pretty full the whole way but slowly emptied out at Village at Merrick Park. Once we turned off of Ponce De Leon onto Ruiz we were delayed for 15-minutes because trying to pick up a garbage container that goes on the back of a truck. He couldn't get the thing to roll all the way up onto the truck. After about 5 attempts he finally got it far enough on the bed of the truck that the bed lowered he moved the truck. Here is a picture of the fake trolley along with the guy that was behind him.
Next I took MetroRail down to the Dadeland South Station. Good thing I was traveling southbound at this point as there was no trains moving northbound at the moment due to a stalled train. Here is a picture of my train arriving at the station.
One I got off at the station you could see my destination which is the Dadeland Shopping Center which is an interesting multi story structure that includes a Target. To the left is some new condos that have been built with easy access to the MetroRail.
Once I got to target I got a pizza from the Pizza Hut located in the Target to satisfy my huger. After doing a little bit of shopping I headed back onto MetroRail to Government Center, caught the MetroMover and head back to the Hotel. I wanted to rest this evening since I had my big presentation at Railvolution the next day.

Well that's day 3 down, tomorrow is a trip to Miami Beach for Railvolution then more bus riding.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

More Trails...

Ogden City Council recommends funds for trail system

The city of Ogden is making a nice trail system. Salt Lake County already has the Jordan River Trail and there are other projects in the pipeline. One resource that is not being well used in many parts of the area is the old water canals. Other cities such as Denver have made better use of these systems for additional trails. While we are making some progress in this area there is till a lot of work to do.

Route Changes...

Picture: the late route 32 at its layover at 3500 East and Bengal just a block from my wife's office that she can longer get to by transit.

Route Changes

It is that magic time again called Route Changes which will take place on December 16th.

There is nothing really earth shattering about the changes but here is some interesting tidbits.

Route 9: The portion along 1100 East is gone and the route will travel directly down 900 East. This restores service along the entire portion of 900 East to 6200 South.

Route 228: Here is the biggest shocker: the route will travel Murray-Holladay Road to 1300 East and then return to Cottonwood Mall just like the old 52. Now who could have expected that? After all, I took bets that the people behind Cottonwood Mall would scream bloody murder because they don't want the bus down their precious little street.

Of course the bad thing is, once UTA starts giving into the NIMBY's, when will it stop?

Route 307 and 320: Guess what? Coordinated every 10-minutes service from Vine to Downtown!! It's about time instead of having the buses on top of each other.

Now what UTA needs to do is dump having separate schedules for the two routes and combine them in one folder since it's a waste of money having two folders. Then show the combine 10-minute service in the schedule. Next promote having every 10-minute service in bold letters on the front of the timetable (of course make it clear that it is during rush hours only reverse commuters SOL).

While full time service still needs to be restored at least this is a step in the right direction to creating more market matrix service.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Street Car Part II

Originally uploaded by NeiTech
In my first post about possible streetcar routes we talked about expanding on the concept of the Sugar House trolley to make it even a more useful route.

Today's picture is little closer to home than Barcelona as it is from the Portland Streetcar in Portland, Oregon which was the first modern street car line put in.

Our next route proposal will replace part of Route 9. It will start at the Intermodal depot and travel on 600 West to 700 South to 400 West. Along 400 West it will briefly travel the route of the expanded Sugar House Trolley but then turn again on 900 South.

It will travel 900 South until 900 East were it would branch.

Branch one will continue traveling on 900 South to Guardsman Way, then travel Guardsman Way until it meets up with the Medical Center TRAX line and follow that route to the Medical Center.

Branch two will travel along 900 East, 1300 South, 1500 East, and then either turn on 1700 East to Foothill or continue on 1500 East, travel through Sugar House Park and connect up with the Sugar House line. From there it could continue to 2100 South TRAX station and make another connection with TRAX.

There is several positives about this route.

First the section of 900 South from 400 West to 200 East is ripe for quality redevelopment especially affordable transit oriented development.

Second both branches would service the 9th and 9th business center, and the second branch would service the 15th and 15th business center.

The only downside is that NIMBY's along some of the eastern half may bulk at having the streetcar.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Street Cars...

Originally uploaded by So Cal Metro
UTA and local citizens have proposed a streetcar running along the old railroad right of way south of 2100 South. While that would be a good start it should actually be part of a much larger system.

This photo is of a street car in Barcelona, Spain. Streetcars have proven popular in many places.

Streetcars were proposed in several places including along South Temple but it looks like UTA and the Wasatch Front Regional Council are backing off and trying to substitute BRT.

Here is one proposal to make the Sugar House Trolley a vital resource. Start at the Intermodal Station and follow TRAX to Main and South Temple using all the TRAX stops. They are close enough together in Downtown to work. Then continue down South Temple all the way to 1300 East.

Then 1300 East to 200 South to University Street then down to meet TRAX. In this section with proper planning with the U of U you could create a nice transit corridor with the streetcar running on its own right of way on the east side of the street and University down to two lanes for cars. It would then use the Stadium TRAX station and head onto 500 South.

From there it would turn on 1300 East and head south allow it to serve Westminster. Then it would turn into the Sugar House Shopping Center and hook up with the old RR right of way.

From there it would travel to the 2100 South TRAX station. From there it would travel along TRAX to the 1300 South Station. At the present time there is little reason to run it in the streets since 300 West is composed of sprawl centers not conducive to the streetcar.

Once it leaves the Ballpark TRAX station it would continue on the old UP right of way that leaves the current TRAX line just north of the station and make its way over to 400 West.

It would continue on 400 West to 200 South and then back to the Intermodal Hub.

Consider what this line would serve: the Intermodal Hub, Gateway, LDS Business College, BYU Salt Lake Center, City Creek, Temple Square, the University of Utah, Westminster, Sugerhouse Square and make multiple connections with TRAX.

This could be the springboard to bringing in more streetcars and develop more walkable communities.

Thank you to So Cal Metro who took this picture.

Miami Day 2...

For those of you that have been waiting anxiously since I did day 1, here is my experience on Day 2 in Miami.

I actually slept in late (8:30am Eastern Time which of course is 6:30am Mountain Time which is still late for me) but was ready for the day. My goal today was to ride the entire MetroRail line and the South Dade Busway.

First I walked over and up to the Metromover Station. I first rode to the final station on the Omni loop which is School District. What a difference two blocks from my stop. This area is filled with vacant lots and abandoned buildings. One interesting note is that this station has a car washer for the Metromover which seems like a strange location.

I then took Metromover to First Street and walked down to Flanger in order to get my visitor pass for the transit system (Metromover is free). However, when I got to the address I wrote down from the Metro Dade website I couldn't find were to go so I walked west trying to find it. Just a few blocks away was the Government Center so I figured I would check there on where I could buy my Visitors Pass. The brochure for the visitor's pass I saw online does not show this Metro-Dade location selling the visitors pass but when I got to the window they said they could sell them. I thought they would ask for ID to prove I was from out of state like Metro does in Seattle but they just took my money and gave me the pass.

Next I took MetroRail to the northeast end of the line at Palmetto. This station was added a few years after the original system opened and is the last new station to open until the extensions they have planned open in a few years. It appears that they plan never to extend the line beyond the station since way this station was designed which is short sighted but typical transit system mentality.

I briefly got off the train to take this picture:

Next I rode the train all the way to the other end of the line at South Dade. This is the connecting point for the South Dade Busway. Here is a picture of a couple of trains at South Dade. You can see some graffiti in both of these pictures. Despite security personnel being at every station, the system is covered with graffiti. It may not be the New York subway in the 70's but it's pretty close.

As you can see from this picture there is TOD being built at this station which is the only sign of it I saw anywhere on the system.

Here is a couple of picture I took of the area were you catch a bus including the ones using the busway. Buses that are arriving at the station arrived on the opposite side to the right of the photos. There are signs with route maps but they only include frequency of the buses not actually times.

I originally planned to ride the entire busway but was getting kind of hungry. Two 34 expresses left with Standing Room only before a busway local 31 came in and I took it. Wouldn't you know that the bus I grabbed was wrapped on the left side !! Just my luck. While I was really craving Chinese Food especially a buffet, after a few stations I saw a Taco Bell and decided just to stop and eat before it got any later. Here is my bus letting me off. I would end up with the same bus coming back.
I walked across US Highway 1 to the Taco Bell and ate. After words I came back caught that same 31 and then transferred to the MetroRail. I rode it back to the Government Center were I decided to ride MetroMover over to the Brickell Area. Here you can see another MetroMover car coming off the Brickell Loop.
Here is a photo from the front of our MetroMover car. As you can see that ride has some characteristics of a roller coaster.
At the end of the line at Brickell I decided to get off, walk to the water then walk back toward downtown. Here is a Metromover train passing over the Miami River on the section of track I had just been on.
Just like Charlotte when I lived there a brief shower came in and dumped for about ten minutes and a half hour later it was clear again.
Miami Dade has a bunch of the new Opus Optima buses like UTA however, they have the "BRT" front end that is supposed to make them look more sleek and magically make riders think it's light rail.
I looked for a convenience store but the only thing I found was a Walgreens. I purchased a couple of things, and then continued walking. Since by this time I was soaking wet from sweat due to the humidity and heat I decided to walk over to the MetroMover's Bayfront Park Station and head back to the hotel thus ending day 2 in Miami.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

How Walkable is your area?

Walk Score

How walkable is your area? This website will calculate how many things are within walking distance of your home so you can see how walkable it is.

The downfall is that it does not have the capabilities to know if there is adequate sidewalks in the area and if there is sever hills or any other obstacles that can hamper walking. It also doesn't take transit access into account.

My place rates a 35 which would be lower taking the sidewalk thing into account. My old apartment in Sandy rates a 51 out of a hundred which doesn't take TRAX being 3 blocks away into account.

My old apartment in Spokane rated the in the high 70's which does not take into account that although there was a bunch of restaurants just a couple of blocks away you had to walk up a hill that was more severe than some of the worst in San Francisco.

See what you come up with...

Monday, November 19, 2007

Bus Family...

Davis family shuns car, takes the bus

Great to hear about this family taking the bus.

Of course in my case my wife can no longer take ride the bus because the 32 is dead. Oh yeah there is that useless 307 but it goes the wrong way. There is many comments on this article some of them talking about the inconvenience of taking the bus which all ring true. After all if you don't need to head downtown or to the U. the bus system is seriously lacking.

Vision for North Temple

Light rail expansion spurs plans to revamp North Temple into 'grand boulevard'

North Temple needs some help and the bringing of light rail to the street will be a big push in that area. One thing that needs to be watched out for is the dumping of the cost on the light rail project. This happens all the time, politicians will see an opportunity to redevelop an area and the cost of the project get dumped on light rail. This happens all the time and gives fodder to the anti-transit crowd that scream cost increases even though light rail itself is not to blame.

What would be nice instead of gentrification which is the most likely form of redevelopment, is work with the community and businesses to develop the area with locally owned shops and restaurants and make it unique.

Another problem is the Interstate 15 overpass. Freeway overpasses or underpasses always create barriers. One of the things that will have to be worked out is how you make it less of a barrier and make it an asset if you can.

Changes in Murray...

Murray has new heartbeat

The new hospital complex will be a magnet for development and the older affordable housing in the area is in danger. If the Murray Council and Planners care about the community they will direct development to the west past TRAX and FrontRunner.

One of the biggest mistakes Murray did was allow the Costco development. Instead of having a pedestrian friendly development that flows from TRAX to the State Street development you have a big box that keeps easy flow from happening.

Murray has also done a poor job of bridging TRAX and 300 West. Murray needs to bring these areas together especially with FrontRunner South now in the works.

This area has so much potential. Lets hope that Murray develops it with common sense and doesn't kill the golden goose.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

State Legislators Still Playing Games...

Rail-line funding still a question

Once again we have one of our state legislators tying to tell Salt Lake County how to spend tax dollars that the voters voted in. When will these guys realize that the voters have spoken and the proposition was from transit.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Miami Day 1...

I was originally supposed to arrive at the Fort Lauderdale Airport (since it was way cheaper than flying into Miami), but due to broken down plane ended up in Miami instead. While there was signs point to buses, there were few signs pointing to the Metro-Dade bus area but I finally found a map and then headed to the bus stop.

Metro-Dade has a new visitor pass that is good for 7 days at $19.00. Even though I would only be here 5, it still was cheaper than paying fares all the time and the airport stop was supposed to sell them. The only problem no one was manning the counter. However, at this point I planned to ride the Tri-Rail commuter line anyway so I purchased a ticket for it and waited for one of their shuttles to the nearby station.

The shuttle (which is operated by Metro-Dade transit with one of their buses) was due at 8:40am but did not show up until 8:55am which meant by the time we got over to the station tit was 9:05am and we missed the 9:00am train so had to wait until 10:00am.

There was a train sitting there but it was out of service so but another train showed up at 9:30am but we were not allowed to board until 9:45am. At this time another train pulled in using experimental DMU units from Colorado Rail Car but they were out of service and heading to the maintenance yard so I would get a chance to ride them.

The Tri-Rail commuter line runs 75 miles from near the Miami Airport to the Magnolia Station in West Palm Beach. They use the same Bombardier Rail cars that UTA will use but are more basically appointed. One nice feature since the line serves three airports is that there is luggage racks in all the cars. However, the cars are equipped with cheap vinyl seats and have no carpeting unlike Metrolink in Los Angeles. Metrolink is far superior to Tri-Rail when it comes to comfort.

It poured rain off and on all day from the edge of Tropical Storm Noel.

Here is our train after we reached the end of the line at Magnolia Park and were waiting to return.

Another view of our train at the Miami Airport Station:
Our return train was packed including flight crews heading to the airport and others. I got off the train and took the same shuttle bus back to the airport and it was standing room only. You could not fit one more person on the bus.

When I got back to the airport station there was still no one manning the counter so I called the bus company to find out were I else I could by a visitor's pass since they are not available everywhere but was very rudely told that they person at the Metro-Dade counter could sell one. I told the person there was no one there and she said, your wrong there is someone working there and hung up.

A route 7 bus pulled in and I knew that it was the only bus route that would get me downtown where my hotel was so I jumped on it and was able to use my Tri-Rail ticket for fare. The driver of this bus was about the closest I could call to being friendly I encountered at Metro-Dade.

The bus route went through some questionable neighborhoods but and then pulled over and every got off. I could tell we were downtown since I saw the Metro-Mover but there was no sign to indicate were we are.

Here is a photo of the route 7 bus I took and the rain.

To the right of my picture I saw that there was a station about three blocks down so I started walking toward it. Finally I got up to it and saw this was the Government Center station which is the main downtown bus, metrorail, and metromover transfer station.

It started pouring rain again but I was able to walk under the Metromover tracks and not get too wet.

I took an escalator up to the second level were and went over to the metro mover station. The first one to pull in was heading to the Brickell district but a couple of minutes later the car I needed the Omni loop came it.

However, after a few stations we came to a stop and there was a train stuck in front of us. After about 5 minutes a guard showed up and walked down to the car opened the door and got in. After a few minutes it finally moved and after another 5 minutes we started moving again.

Here are a couple of photos out of our car to the stuck car.

I finally made it to the Omni Metromover station which is next to a major bus station and just a half a block to my hotel. Normally it would be an easy walk but the dead Omni mall is being turned into offices so I had to walk across the street walk a block north, cross the street again to get to the Radisson Hotel.

Well this was day one, how will the other days work out? How will Miami compare to UTA? Stayed tuned to find out...

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Reno Comparison...

Now the answer to the question you have been waiting for: How does Reno Ride compare to UTA?

What does Reno do Better?

1. Timed Transfers-Many systems do timed transfers better than UTA. The buses have time transfers at all the 3 transit centers which makes getting across the system easy. When UTA butchered the cross town routes such as 4500 South/4700 South and 3900 South/4100 South, Redwood, and State they made some long waits for transfers. Transit mentality says that the buses run every 15-minutes so that is ok, customer focus mentality says poor service.

2. Fare Boxes-Reno uses a more advance fare box than UTA. Something I have not seen before is that the fare box will issue transfers and day passes which makes a lot of sense. Plus the fare box will validate transfers and day passes to insure they are current. As a side note to this, the system is not set in stone as the driver can over ride in order to take care of the customer in special circumstances.

3. Actually calling their day pass is wrong as it's actually a 24 hour pass. When it is validated by the fare box, you can use it for the next 24 hours. This is a much more customer oriented model than a standard day pass. For example I arrived in Reno at noon and started riding at 1:00pm. I could have ridden the buses the next day until 1:00pm if my schedule allowed.

4. You can purchase a 24-hour pass on the buses. Drivers (or actually the fare box) will issue a 24-hour pass so you don't have to order them special, you don't have to worry about stocking up, in other words a customer can pick up a 24-hour pass and start using it.

5. The fare box validates the pass not the driver. I have had drivers in both Denver and Salt Lake validate day passes with the wrong dates. Then what do you do? After all the driver has no day passes so your SOL.

What does UTA do better?

1. Reno has those cheap anti-vandalism plastic seats with the cushion insets that are not comfortable especially compared to UTA's more comfortable padded seats.


Reno and UTA seem to be equal on quality of drivers which is overall good.

Looks like Reno wins. Of course Reno is a smaller system so they do have advantages over UTA, but there is still things that UTA could take from the Reno system to make the Utah system better.

Next up Miami...

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Transit Related Article

Metros: Slowed by sprawl

Here is Reno...

Well as many of you probably read, my travels last week took me to Reno and Miami. Here I will go over my experiences with both cities and their transit systems and how they compare to the UTA.

The first bus I took in Reno was route 9 which had a 40-foot TMC RTS bus number 472. The RTS is one of the best buses you can ride, far superior to the low floor buses that we are now subjected to (I don't have a problem with low floor buses themselves, it's just that every model I have ridden is a rattle piece of junk).

Route 9 travels from Downtown to the Meadowood Mall. The bus mainly travels through older neighborhoods many of them looking run down. In fact, in my travels through Reno there was only two types of neighborhoods in Reno: Old run down and suburban sprawl.

The bus remained fairly full all the way to the mall. In fact I was originally going to ride route 6 but that bus was standing room only with a 30-foot bus.

Once at Meadowood Mall I transferred to Route 56, with RTS number 471. In fact this was the same 30-foot bus that I passed up in Downtown on the 6 line.

The 56 mainly travels through new office parks, a new "premium" factory outlet center, small industrial and finally new apartment complexes. I then got off the 56 at South Meadows and Double R to catch the 57. I walked around the area taking some pictures and then caught the 57 which turned out to be the same bus as the 56. Apparently on Saturdays the bus runs route 6, route 56, route 57 and then return on route 6 to Downtown.

Once again the 57 went through mainly new office parks and new suburban sprawl housing. Once it becomes the 6 route you encounter mainly older homes all but about 2 blocks looks run down.
Here is the back of bus 471 after it dropped me off in Downtown Reno. Once here the bus switches from Route 6 to Route 19.
Reno has also purchased the Gillig Advantage BRT buses. What is a BRT Bus? Well in other words they are the Gillig Advantages like UTA purchased in 1999 and 2001 but with new nose and tail caps, seamless window sills, and supposedly more passenger friendly. UTA bought the same buses for Ogden this year and they are basically just like the older Advantages: rattletraps and junk since three 0f them I rode in Ogden had mechanical problems including a one with brake issues (a brand new bus with brake problems?)

This is Reno's downtown transit center. Look at this, that's right, timed transfers!!! Sadly Reno has fallen into the same anti-passenger wrap trap.
Another feature run by Reno is a free shuttle called the Sierra Spirit that runs from the downtown area to University of Nevada. The buses run every 10-minutes from 7:00am to 9:00pm seven days a week. They also feature free Wi-Fi service that sadly the main hotels do not offer.

This gives you a preview of the Reno system and in my next entry I will go over what Reno does better than UTA and is there anything that UTA does better? Stay tuned to find out...

Friday, November 09, 2007

Transit Related Article

Did rail drive Draper race?

After talking to many people in Draper I was pretty sure that the people behind the anti-TRAX NIMBYism would not win, I am glad to see that indeed the NIMBY's lost.

The UP right of way makes the most sense for the TRAX line and that is where is should go, and a majority of Draper residents agree.

Sadly, it is probably not the last we will here from Pugh and her forces but lets hope common sense prevails.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

UTA people missing in action at Railvolution...

As I said a couple of weeks ago I was very busy over the last week and a half. First I took Amtrak to Reno and attended a conference. Then I flew down to the Miami area to attend Railvolution that was being held in Miami Beach. In fact I was one of the presenters on Saturday.

I have plenty of material from these trips and will go over it over the next few weeks along with other important information but something I have to mention about Saturday.

On Saturday I was kind of curious how many UTA people were going to be in my session but end the end no one from UTA showed up even though there was several there from UTA. I saw the people leaving on the mobile workshops and no UTA people. Look into the other sessions that day and still no UTA people. So where were they? After all, they were attending a conference on taxpayers money so shouldn't they be held accountable for attending every workshop during the 4 days?

Now hopefully I am wrong, that I just missed seeing them, but some people were joking that most of the attendees went to the beach instead of the sessions on Saturday. 700 people were supposed to be attending the conference but I saw few people walking around on Saturday so it makes you wonder.

Now hopefully I am wrong they happened to be hiding somewhere but I do think when they attend a conference on taxpayer money they should be held accountable to attended every session during the conference or have to pay it back.

So what is the answer???

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Transit tax fails in Davis, OK'd in Box Elder