Friday, October 02, 2009

TRAX changes reversed

A TRAX train passing the Frank E.Image via Wikipedia

Now that I have you caught up on This Week in Amtrak postings, now its time to start talking about important issues again.

The first thing I want to talk about is the UTA reversing its decision to end Sandy trains at the Arena station and running every 30-minute service from Sandy to the U.

For those of you not keeping up with what is happening in this area, in August UTA started terminating Sandy trains at the Arena station and only running University trains all the way to Central Station. In turn UTA started running trains every 30-minutes on week days from Sandy to the University of Utah bypassing downtown.

If you look at the numbers the move made a lot of sense. After all, for anyone that has seen the activity at Gallivan Center during most of the day you know that there is huge numbers of people who transfer to and from University and Sandy trains at that station. Therefore running more Sandy to University trains made sense even if it meant a lost of service on the far end of the line. Lets remember that Central Station still had every 15-minute service so its not like they had a major cut in service.

However, the court of public opinion clearly showed that people want the Sandy trains to head all the way to Central Station. I personally feel that despite its bad location (thank you Dee-Dee and Boyer), now that Front Runner is running with more on the way, that Central Station needs to be the central hub of UTA service in the downtown Salt Lake City area. Hopefully over the next few years we will see some major developments around the Central Station area that will make it a more important spot in the downtown area.

That being said, when the other TRAX lines come on line over the next few years, we are going to see changes in TRAX service in the downtown area. Not all trains will be able to head to Central Station. In addition thanks to the west side NIMBY's and victim mentalities, we lost an opportunity to have a direct feed from Central Station to the airport. While it is theory still possible, the loss of the 600 West route does greatly hinder that possibility.

Despite the numbers looking right and making sense, there are times that these things don't work and UTA is doing the right thing and is going to start running most Sandy trains all the way to Central Station again.

Now if you listen to some people you would think that it is only because UTA is a government agency that this happened and that private enterprise would never make a mistake like this. Give me a break. Last time I checked, there is a host of private companies that have mistakes like this. After all, according to taste tests a majority of people wanted Coke to change its formula. Yet, after New Coke was introduced, Coke had to bring out Classic Coke to appease the huge numbers of people who where upset about the change, yet the taste test said that it should work.

UTA tried something new and innovative but is now having to go back. Government agencies are often criticized for not being innovative, but when they do they are criticized for being innovative. UTA should be applauded for trying something new and encouraged to do it more in the future.

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