Tuesday, June 22, 2010

A few hours on UTA and some upcoming articles

Yesterday I had a few hours to kill so I naturally decided to spend some time riding TRAX and some UTA buses.

First of all I started by walking to the Meadowbrook TRAX station from the area around 4000 South and State. A few days ago I made some comments about the new development going in south of 3900 South and I pointed out some of the problems current facing the complex. Well I discovered another one. There is no sidewalk currently on the south side of 3900 South from West Temple to Main.

In fact the southwest corner of Main and 3900 is a death trap. There is no way for cars trying to turn right onto Main or even going straight to see a pedestrian that is trying to cross the street from that point. I did it and lived to tell about it but this is another reason that I do not see that new development being a true TOD development.

Once I got to the station I decided to take the first train that came along and that was a University to Sandy train with two of the ex-San Jose UTDC/Bombardier light rail vehicles. The car I rode in was squeaking really bad but hopefully these will be replaced by the new S70 cars next year.

I didn't mention it in my article on TOD but the new development at the former Smith's store at 7800 South and State is another example of TAD. It is playing on the fact that it is near a TRAX station but the development is clearly auto centric and because of the lack of amenities nearby (except of an excellent burger joint and a couple of restaurants) will do nothing to decrease car trips.

After arriving at the Sandy Civic Center Station the train went out of service and since the only bus in sight was the 811 and I didn't feel like heading to Utah County, I hopped the northbound train to Central Station.

The new TRAX Express concession building is nearly complete at the Sandy Civic Center Station. Hopefully this will prove to be a success since so many TRAX stations are far conveniences. I also noted that there has been a lot of progress in the last couple of weeks at the 6200 South TRAX station where the new Mid Jordan line will tie in with the existing line. I also noted that the turnouts for the West Valley line have been put in.

I took TRAX all the way to central station and decided to walk over to the bus area and catch the first bus that came along. The first thing I have noticed is that a shelter has been installed over the bus boarding area. Not a real bus shelter but one of those canvas shelters used when camping and for outdoor parties and such. I am sure that bus riders will not mind having some shade from the hot summer days.

The first bus boarding as I approached the bus area was a 217 but there was a large number of people getting on so I waited for the bus behind it which was the 240 and jumped on it. This is the first time that I had the chance to ride this route since it was created during the bus realignment.

There was no one on board as we left central station and only person other person boarded before we jumped on the freeway and headed to Redwood Road. By the time the bus turned onto Decker Lake Blvd the driver was running a couple of minutes early so we sat and waited for time. We were riding in one of the oldest buses currently in the UTA fleet, a 1997 Gillig Phantom. While the bus may be older, it still is holding up better than the low floor buses that will soon replace this one.

In fact, once the 1996 and 1997 Gillig Phantoms are retired UTA will basically have an all low floor bus fleet except for the MCI Commuter Cruisers. While I know low floor buses make it easier for people with disabilities get on and off, I still dislike how much seating capacity goes down with a low floor and the quality just doesn't seem to stack up.

I decided since I had not had the opportunity to ride MAX since the bus lanes open I would give it a shot. The other person on the bus got off along 3100 South giving me a bus to myself for a few blocks. However, that would not have lasted long if I didn't get off at 3500 South since there was a fairly good crowd getting on when I disembarked.

I walked over to the MAX stop and waited for the bus to come. After about a 8 minute wait I boarded Van Hool bus number 09104 with a couple of other passengers. With the lack of seating capacity on the Van Hool's it doesn't take much of a crowd to fill up the seating capacity but I had no problem finding a seat on the left had side of the bus.

After crossing Bangerter Highway the bus enters the new bus lanes. While the lanes made have saved a couple of minutes, all the time saved was loss as the bus had to wait in an attempt to cross the road in order to turn right onto 2700 West. After making a loop pass the future TRAX station we headed toward to Millcreek TRAX station.

People who read this blog often know that I am not a fan of BRT or as I call it Badly Repackaged Transit. This is especially true of MAX which is supposed to have off bus fare collection but few use it, the bus lanes save little time, there is no next bus information, and

I once again boarded the first TRAX came that came along which was once again heading toward downtown. I was getting hungry at this point so I decided to head to the City Creek Center's Food Court and see what was available there.

Among the choices were: Red Iguana, Bocata, Sbarro, Suki Hana, Great Steak, Chang Chun, and McDonald's. Soon there will also abe a Roxberry's and Subway. Except for the Red Iguana its pretty much standard sub par mall offerings but I was in the mood for Chinese so I tried Chang Chun. The food was good and the price reasonable so I can't complain.

I then boarded a TRAX train back to 3900 South that ended my journey for the day.

Today I also took a shorter trip in order to head to a function I had to attended at 6:00pm so I rode the 213 and caught a northbound TRAX train.

There was a fairly good load on the 213 with a number of people getting on and off along the way. In fact I believe we stopped at every single stop along the 1000 east stretch of the route. You have to wonder if BRT is started along 1300 East how much the 213 would be cut back and how it would affect service along the route.

I then rode TRAX to the Murray Central TRAX station. The car I rode in seemed to have a flat spotted wheel as it had a distinct thumb while moving. I had to walk to Vine then over to 300 West then south toward 5300 South to reach my destination. As I have pointed out in the past, Murray has done little to connect both sides of the tracks so to speak in this area.

You have the new developments on the east side including the IHC Death Star as many people call it which was poorly designed to and doesn't integrate well with the TRAX station. Then you have the 300 West corridor on the far side of the UP and future Front Runner tracks that have not been given easy access to the TRAX station. Hopefully as the station becomes an even more important transportation hub with the addition of Front Runner South, Murray will see fit to blend the areas together and make access easier.

I also wanted to give you a heads up on some article ideas I am working on. I will guarantee how fast each individual article will be put on the blog but keep an eye out.

Among the ideas rolling around up in my head:

  • Why the streetcar may be downtown Bountiful's only hope.
  • Googleize UTA's Website
  • What High Speed Rail means to us
  • The importance of mixed use
  • Real Estate and the Free Market Myth
  • How much does it cost to drive?
So there is a preview of future articles plus several others I have on the burner.

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