Survival for the passenger

A few days ago, as I crossed the street from Sinclair toward UVU, I encountered a woman whose appearance immediately revealed her agitation. Beside her stood an old but well-cared-for bicycle. When a UTA bus came to a stop, she quickly moved toward the door and asked the driver when the next bus to Spanish Fork would be coming around. After a brief search, the driver responded, “Well I don’t have the time schedule for the 802. However, it should be here in an hour or so.”

Tears almost rolled down her cheeks as her face hardened. Even the uninitiated eye could tell she was sorely disappointed and angry as she watched the bus drive away.

“I should have driven my car,” I recall her saying. That statement haunted me as I walked to campus. I was left wondering what happens to those without cars, motorbikes or scooters as an option.

Am I wrong to assume that public transportation in Utah could stand some substantial improvement?

It would be unjust to fail mentioning that UTA is doing a stand-up job. Professionalism is their drivers’ hallmark, and punctuality the standard. UTA’s careful accommodation of bicyclists is well in line with the ecologically friendly aspects of mass transit. The buses are comfortable and clean. And, of course, the UVU bus pass is a great idea, though this realization may only come for those who have known the pain of being caught without one.Despite the many advantages of UTA buses, though, disadvantages weigh in equally as numerous.

The bus schedule sometimes suffers seemingly eternal gaps, and the passenger is tied to UTA time. Should your watch deviate even slightly from UTA time, you’re almost certain to miss the bus. Moreover, the bus routes do not go to some areas where passengers are headed, hence people tend to trek for long distances after alighting, and those leaving work late at night find themselves in a dilemma. In addition, if you are not privileged to be a UVU student with a bus pass, then it becomes very expensive to finance your transportation. In cases where passengers need connecting buses, they must carry with them bus schedule sheets. I once saw a person with five different schedules who looked as if he either did not or could not comprehend the true time.

Though solutions to these problems surely abound, one in particular seems approachable and especially feasible: the dissolution of UTA’s monopoly. UTA is the only public transit operating in Utah, and this of course results in a variety of difficulties. First and foremost, customers do not have a choice; they are forced into compliance with the status quo. Secondly, competition spurs advancement, and it seems ignorant to assume that such would not be the case in this instance.

As gas prices continue to soar, more and more commuters are becoming reliant on public transportation. UTA moves about 60,000 people daily, and this number is bound to rise. As such, there is a need for more efficiency from our public transit.

A good idea can be made into a better idea. It may be too much to ask for iced drinks to make long summer rides more bearable, but a passenger’s thirst for readily available and comprehensible schedules at stops could easily be sated.

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