Tuesday, July 24, 2007

UTA service on Pioneer Day...

Today was Pioneer Day so UTA ran Sunday bus service. While that was nice for its drivers what about its customers?

I don't know about you, but a majority of the people I know still had to work today except for two people and one works for the state and the other runs his own business like I do so he took the day off.

However, I know many people who had to work today because their companies don't recogize it as a holiday because their based outside Utah. Even though my wife works for a company based in Salt Lake City her company still worked today because a majority of the companies they do business with are based outside Utah.

So many of these people who had to work today had to drive or get rides since there was almost no bus service. Once again UTA does not take their customers into account when making decisions.

It seems like UTA assumes that everyone should have the day off. However, it is mostly the state and church employees who have it off, not a majority of the population. UTA needs to start taking these things into account.

Monday, July 23, 2007

New Bus Schedules Out....

Today UTA released the new bus schedules for the bus redesign. Remember its this glorious new system that will get people to downtown faster yet not get many riders to where they need to go. Ironically, today UTA said ridership has dropped significantly this year, are they going to try to make the post August 26 look better than they are? Of course revenue will tell the real story.

Here is one example of how this new system works. Lets look at the current 32 soon to be a the useless 307. Instead of providing all day service it will only provide peak service to downtown in the morning and back in the pm. No more riding the bus for my wife since her office is at the end of the 32 so she needs to go the other direction.

According to the new timetable the new 307 is 6 to 7 minutes faster than the current 32 so from Golden Hills and Wasatch to Downtown will take 38 minutes instead of 44 or 45. Think people are going to go running to the bus since its soooo much faster? Didn't think so. How do they save so much time? By eliminated a majority of the bus stops south of 6200 South and all other stops north of there that are not at major intersections. So in other words they won't have to stop to pick up passengers. Then of course the buses sit for most of day wasting valuable capital resources.

However UTA is still being stupid. The new 320 that replaces the 21 would once again be run on top of the 307. They will run from 6200 South all the way to downtown just a couple of minutes apart. The scheduler who planned this should be terminated for gross stupidity. Since the buses are running every twenty minutes they should be 10 minutes apart but that would take common sense and marketing experience.

Now its not so easy to compare the 21 and 320 since the current 21 does not go into the 9400 South Park in Ride lot before heading down Highland Drive (the route will naturally will be faster since it does not service the neighborhoods to pick up its customers..most of whom rode from the neighborhoods), so instead we have to use Fort Union Blvd to Downtown. Here the current 21 takes 29 minutes and the 320 will take 22 minutes so a difference of 7 minutes.

It will be interesting to see what revenue does over the next year.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Schedules available tomorrow....

According to the UTA website, then new schedules that will go into effect on August 26th will be available on the website tomorrow.

Friday, July 20, 2007

Forget Ridership Numbers Check Revenue.....

By the time the next round of bus changes takes place in December, you can expect the UTA planners and the board of trustees to be bragging on how much ridership has gone up since the bus changes. However, as I have pointed out in the past, the ridership number is meaningless. Because more people will be forced to transfer under the system, ridership will naturally go up but that means nothing because they have no way to account for transfers and how many trips people actually make.

Instead we should all be looking at the total revenue brought in by fares. In 2006 the UTA brought in 24,627,104 in fares during the year. Of course 2007 is not going to be a good indicator since the changes happen 2/3rds of the way through the year. However, in 2008 there should be a substantial increase in revenue or they UTA has not had a major increase in people taking the bus, they are just using voodoo accounting to make themselves look good.

The only way to tell if this changes are effective is if UTA's revenue increases to at least $30 million for fiscal year 2008. However if that number could be low depending on what happens to gas prices of the next year.

Just remember when UTA says that ridership has gone up .....% since the changes, the number is meaningless.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Monopolistic Customer Service

Here is a follow up on my trip to Denver last month.

For those of you that didn't read my blog about it, I had a business trip to Denver so I ordered a day pass from RTD in Denver. Well after few weeks in had not shown up so I had to buy two of them when arrived in Denver at the Airport.

However, the driver on the AT bus punched the wrong date and because they don't get to carry them I was out of luck.

So I emailed RTD and stated what happened. About a week later I get an email from someone at RTD saying that they got my pass back so they sent it back out again and I received it. Since I will back in Denver in September I figured I would use it then and ordered a second once since I will be there two full days and it arrived a few days later.

Then about a week after I got it I received another email from RTD saying they would refund me for the missing one. I emailed back and told the situation.

Then I get this email from some guy at RTD:

researched your order and you indicate in your e-mail that you ordered 2 day passes toward the end of May. I see that order, but it was only for ONE day pass, not two. There was a second order for the same item in June:

Order 1 – Shipped 5/25/07 to:

Salt Lake City UT 84117
US United States

Order 2 – Shipped 6/26/07 to:

Salt Lake City UT 84117
US United States

I show both passes were successfully mailed and were not returned here by the USPS. If you think they were lost in the mail, please complete a complaint with the US Postal Inspectors office. You can download a form from http://www.usps.com/postalinspectors/mailthft/2016.pdf
Or you can complete your complaint online:

We can re-issue the lost pass after we receive a copy of your completed complaint:
Attn: Gary Googins

1600 Blake Street

Denver, CO 80202-4909

I emailed him back gave him all the information and I never received and email back.

Can you imagine that, telling your customer that they would have to file a complaint and the company would do nothing? I'm sorry but a company with good customer service would have taken care of the situation, that's how you keep customers.

However, I will gladly sign a consulting contract with RTD to show them how to properly take care of their customers since clearly they need it.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

So what kind of reception will UTA get?

UTA asking 6 counties for tax hike

Rainer Huck and his wrongness....

Huck For Mayor

Talk about a guy is so wrong it is laughable. Look under his ideas for transportation and you will see that this guy is against people having freedom to choose what transportation they want and he uses blatant lies to support his contentions.

Lie Number 1: Roads support themselves transit doesn't.

Only if you listen to the road warriors. But here is something that is not factored in there: State Patrol, Local Roads, Police, Fire that handle the accidents and that is just the start. Plus where is the money going to come from to repair all the roads that are getting in such bad shape? Not from the Highway Trust Fund because it can't handle all the needs.

Lie Number 2: Transit increases terrorist activity.

Excuse me, but what was used in Oklahoma City? What is being used in Iraq against our troops? Last time I check its motor vehicles. The truth is that cars are so prevalent that they are much more dangerous than transit.

Lie Number 3: Transit is more dangerous because of infectious diseases.

Oh give me a break this guy is insane!! Unless you are going to sit in your home and avoid all human contact then you have a danger of catching a disease. Give me a break. Ever go into a store? Ever go to a movie? Ever go to work?

Then he tries to came environmentalist want to stop people from having cars. Darn he did not say transit advocates so I could make that lie number 4. After all, I am a transit advocate but I don't hate cars. But transit provides a needed alternative to the car. I have the freedom to choose how I travel while Huck would take that freedom away. Cars? I like cars, in fact I would love to have a 1970 Shelby Mustang GT500KR Convertible or a 1959 Cadillac El Dorado Biaritz Convertible in my garage any day.

Oh well, in '99 we had Dr. Ken Larson running and his extremism, I guess we have another this time.

Sunday, July 08, 2007

Is Fast Bus Going to Work?

During the cuts last year UTA introduced this great new bus service to the valley called "Fast Bus". What UTA did was turn the former 48 in the 327, the 46 into the 346, and create a new route number 313. The concept was to get people to downtown faster. In fact it would be a big part of the changes that will come in August.

If the first three lines are any indication we are heading for a failure.

Lets remember that the 48 line was already a success. UTA did one smart thing and that was reroute the line to Daybreak. The they turned around and made it limited stop. However the 46 line was already a weak performer but Fast Bus was going to make it a much better route.

Well if they did such a good job with the 313 and 346 why are they essentially discontinued? Oh yeah the 346 will still run but it will not go downtown instead it will terminate at the Historic Sandy TRAX station. Why don't they just go ahead and restore the stops since their admitting the 346 was a failure.

The 313 that will be running after August 26 is a different animal that the current 313. Instead of heading downtown it will go to the University of Utah instead. So once again UTA would admit it, but the line was a failure.

The question once again has to be asked, who is held accountable in the fact that these routes failed? Will any planner be held accountable? Of course not.

As I have said in the past, the Fast Bus program is like the ski bus service, a major waste of capital resources. Fast Buses sit all day in the yard after making a trip or two while the ski buses sit 8 months out of the year.

We will see what the next year brings us. Of course we there is a bunch of proposals for changes next year, the board of Trustees will say well we made a mistake and approve changes. They will not hold the planners accountable to make a working plan.

Will we end up like Orange County, CA and slowly change many routes back? Time will tell.

Thursday, July 05, 2007

Is UTA a social service?

During the public hearings for the bus cuts, one of the UTA's people made an interesting statement when he said that UTA "was not a social service".

So what is it? Lets look at UTA's Mission Statement:

"Utah Transit Authority strengthens and connects communities enabling individuals to pursue a fuller life with greater ease and convenience by leading through partnering, planning, and wise investment of physical, economic, and human resources."

Looking at the mission statement of UTA gives the impression that it is indeed a social service.

Interesting note, if you consider how many areas that will be left without bus service or useless bus service, it kind of makes you question if the UTA is "enabling individuals to pursue a fuller life".

So where does a majority of UTA's revenue come from? Well looking at their budget it does appear that it comes from tax dollars. So in other words the UTA is not a self-reliant business. I guess you can get into all kinds of philosophical discussions on what makes something a true social service but looking at their mission statement and at their budget tells me that they are indeed a social service.

I am not saying if this is a bad thing or not. But when UTA representatives get up in front of people and tell them they are not a social service, they should get called on the carpet for it. Unless UTA wants to change the way it does business, it shouldn't try to be something its not or admit what it truly is.

Monday, July 02, 2007

Deseret News Editorial

Thumbs up to funding mass transit

Hard hitting excellent editorial pointing out the hypocrisy of the road warriors and of course many members of our state legislature.