Monday, August 17, 2009

30 years of riding UTA ...


I hit another milestone in late September of 2009 — 30 years, (yes, 3 full decades), of riding Utah Transit Authority buses.
I started using UTA back in Sept. of 1979, because it was so hard for me as a sportswriter for an afternoon newspaper, to cover a night game and then turnaround early the next morning and drive almost 40 miles to the newspaper office and do my story by 7:30 a.m.
My mother suggested I try the bus and she even got me a schedule.
Once I drug myself to the bus, I could catch up on my sleep, or finish writing my story…
Riding the bus whenever I could has continued over the years, even though I was only a sportswriter for three years. As a feature writer and later a city desk reporter, I kept the practice going and only drive my car when I have to.
I know I have lower blood pressure, not having to drive in traffic as much and I've saved a bundle in money over the years.
In fact, let's figure what money I have saved.
It is a 50-mile roundtrip drive these days for me from home to work and back. That's almost 12,000 miles a year commuting. Multiply that by 30 years and it comes out to 360,000 miles. I usually only keep my cars until they reach 90,000 miles so that is 4 new cars I have saved purchasing in three decades! That's some $50,000 to $60,000, plus interest I have likely saved.
My UTA ridership may also explain somewhat why I have never been in a car accident or received a speeding ticket too -- I simply have less overall time on the road.
It's my choice to take the bus and it works for me. Sure, I may have to walk a little, but I've never minded that.
Being a reporter, I've still done my job OK and walked an extra mile or two here and there from a TRAX stop to cover some event. Only once or twice a year do I have to tell my editors I can't cover an event at the spur of the moment, if it is in Park City or somewhere too distant from UTA service. I think that's a pretty good record and if a reporter can ride UTA a lot, that many other workers in other professions have no excuse to not do so either.
I started taking express buses in the late 1980s, when they began service, but switched back to a regular bus in about 2003, when I found that by so doing I can walk all the way and not have to drive at all — and skip the 2 miles to the Layton Hills Mall and back also.
(Frontrunner is about 3 miles from my house and is not convenient for me to use.)
I co-led an effort at my newspaper back in the 1990s to get the company to pay part of a bus pass, since they have always paid part of the parking lot fee downtown. My effort failed, until my bosses realized half a bus pass was less than half a parking pass and so they could save money. By about 2006, the company also started paying ALL a regular bus pass. Heck of a deal.
I've seen a lot of weird things in my 30 years of bus riding, but that is perhaps a story for later….

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