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Well, it appears that we survived the summer heat (and for those of you that use UTA, August Change Day), and it is time to start getting ready for crisper air when we are waiting for our bus or train to arrive.
It was an extremely active summer for UTRU: membership numbers are on the rise, we have been building relationships with local, regional, and national transit related groups and providers, we remained as snarky as ever on twitter (@rideutru), and we are securing funds to create and teach transit advocacy in communities that are underserved by transit.
And UTRU continues to move forward! Soon we will be releasing the findings of our Bikes On Transit survey to our members and transit agencies. We will soon be opening up a second survey focused specifically on how women interact with transit, focusing on issues such as safety, security, frequency, and convenience, so be sure to keep an eye out for that as well.
But perhaps the most exciting thing to come from UTRU is the announcement that we are forming chapters! UTRU chapters are designed to allow members to be more hands-on with transit advocacy by focusing on specific issues and advocating for better transit based off of their hard work. We are accepting chapter applications based on geographic area (Salt Lake City, Utah County, Southern Utah), transit types (Train riders, bikers), specific routes (the Red Line, Green Circulator), and common interests (women, trail riders, commuters), and so on! The sky is really the limit.
Finally, because UTRU is nothing without its members, we also want to remind you of our quarterly membership meeting in September and our annual nominating convention in October, which you can learn more about in this very newsletter!
So, read on, and find out what UTRU has planned!
MARK YOUR CALENDARS!
SEPTEMBER MEMBER MEETING
OCTOBER NOMINATING CONVENTION
Saturday, September 17 | 10 - 11:30 AM
Saturday, October 15 | 10 - 11:00 AM
(Both Events Held Virtually)
In September UTRU will be joined by representatives from UTA, the Wasatch Front Regional Council, and the Utah Rail Passengers Association to talk bus routes, bike infrastructure, and statewide rail.
In October UTRU will be electing officers to its board and planning for 2023
Visit UTRU.org for event details or go to:
A Call for UTRU Chapters
UTRU is nothing without its members, and who knows the transit needs of your community better than you?
UTRU is forming chapters based on criteria such as location, common interest, and transit type.
Chapters are the eyes and ears of UTRU and if you want to start a chapter, UTRU will give you hands-on assistance to start and grow your chapter.
By starting a chapter, you can address transit needs in real and actionable ways and build better, people-oriented, communities where you live, work, and play.
So, be the change—form a chapter today!
To learn more, or to start a chapter, contact our Executive Director at firstname.lastname@example.org
Transit to Trails—Dry Gulch
By UTRU Board Member, Austin Whitehead
It’s no secret that Salt Lake City has some of the best outdoor access in the country. While dedicated transit to trails programs are rare in Utah, there are a number of existing transit stops that put us within a stone’s throw of our world-class trail systems.
The Dry Gulch section of the Bonneville Shoreline Trail (BST) is a popular, but stout climb and is the starting point for many activities in the foothills.
Primarily accessed by people driving and parking at Popperton Park, it’s also a short walk or bike away from the U of U Medical Center Trax Station, the northernmost stop on the red line.
This Trax/BST loop has become one of my favorite rides: starting from the Medical Center Trax station, climbing up Dry Gulch and west across the BST, descending down the new 19th avenue bike trail, and cruising down Memory Grove into downtown Salt Lake City.
My mountain adventure started at the Ballpark Trax station and taking the Red Line to the U. I avoid biking on 1300 South at all costs because of traffic and lack of a bike lane on that section, so I opted for the much calmer access point via Lucy Ave off of West Temple.
Getting off at the end of the line, I went North on Campus Drive. It’s a 0.75-mile ride to the bottom of Dry Gulch where the singletrack starts. With construction, it’s a bit of a confusing route, but there’s a well-protected path and crosswalk towards the JCC and trail access marked past the JCC parking lot.
From here it was a good old-fashioned climb; 600 feet of steady climbing got me onto the bench and the views opened up.
Another 2 miles of rolling trail along the BST including another stout climb up the “Grassy Knoll” and got me to the start of the 19th Ave. downhill-only trail. The first section of this trail is smooth and bumpy with rollers and killer views.
Continuing the descent toward Morris Meadows, the trail has steep swooping switchbacks and I really started to pick up speed. It lets out and joins with the multi-use Meadows trail for a short stint. Riding across Morris Meadows, I pick up the 19th Ave downhill trail into City Creek. This section is steep and looser than the rest of the trail and descends below tree cover before popping out at the top of Memory Grove.
It’s paved downhill from here on out! A short walk from downtown and the capitol, Memory grove is one of my favorite quick escapes.
Before I know it I’m in downtown Salt Lake City. A post ride beer at Beer Bar puts me close to the Library station where I can pick back up the Red Line! Taking a train to singletrack and ending in the heart of downtown makes this a Salt Lake City classic, a truly special experience in our city.
All-in-all this is a 10 mile ride with ~1,200 feet of climbing and would be a lot of fun with any bike with >2” tires and an intermediate rider.
The U of U Hospital stop is a great start for any BST adventure on foot or bike. I would love to see other people’s ideas from here and other transit stops around Utah!
A Bus, a Bus, My Kingdom for a Bus!
-By UTRU Board Member Chris Stout
Pre-pandemic, I lived in a good spot as far as transit was concerned. Living at 4600 South and 900 East in Salt Lake County, I was 200 feet from a stop on Route 209, which ran along 900 East and a one block walk from a stop on Route 45 along 4500 South.
When I moved into my current home in 2004 the stops were essentially the same – just called by different names: Route 44 – Willow Creek and Route 40 – East-West 4500 South. But weekday Outbound service was commuter oriented and stopped around 6:30 PM. However this fact wasn’t too inconvenient as UTA’s Night Ride extended service much later, albeit through combined routes and hourly service. In all, I could still stay downtown until 9:30 or 10 and get home using then Route 140 (on weekdays of course, Saturday service was still behind the curve).
When I started talking to people about transit issues in Utah and ultimately formed a group of like-minded people to co-found UTRU in 2013/2014, getting into downtown was easy: take bus Route 45 to Murray North and catch the Red or Blue line train. On Saturdays, I could get to Library Station in an outstanding 35 minutes. Today, that same trip takes 55 minutes because, in 2017, UTA rerouted the 45 nine blocks to the south to terminate at Murray Central. Since then, the route has been slowly but surely bleeding passengers. UTA claims its because a for-profit high school closed, but I’m convinced that the detour plays a part. My own shift to using the 209 more to get downtown or go south to Fashion Place is a testament to that. It’s enough to drive a person to drink.
But even that is getting harder to do. Pre-pandemic, I could hop on Route 45 and go to the Holladay liquor store and back within 45 minutes. Today, after the August 2022 change day made the pandemic cuts permanent, that trip has doubled to an hour and a half.
To be fair, it isn’t all bad. My friends recently opened Paxton Pub at 365 West Paxton Ave - about 1200 South. From there, a trip home can take as little as 39 minutes with 2 transfers or I can leave shortly before midnight and get home just after 1 AM - On. The. Bus. But definitely not by using Route 45, and certainly not on weekends. Don’t get me wrong, The service on Route 209 is great Monday through Friday, but I want the 15-minute, Mid-Valley, East/West service 7 days a week.
These levels of service are needed to meet people’s full transit needs. Besides going to the liquor store, I was able to use Route 45 to see movies, eat lunch, and pick up groceries with ease. Now, thanks to the now-permanent pandemic changes that were made, it’s much less convenient to go about my day and I am now taking transit about half as often as I used to in 2019.
So, while August Change Day largely maintained the status quo from April 2020, it is still far from what my (and I suspect many of your) transit experiences were compared to February 2019 as it now requires more planning, walking, and waiting.
One of the things we are seeing as the pandemic evolves from a violent boil to a low simmer is that commuter traffic as a percentage of use is decreasing while “everyday living” transit is taking a bigger and bigger portion of the pie, and there is no reason to think that this trend won’t hold as Millennials and Gen Z are increasingly moving away from car usage to live, work, and play. Transit agencies must keep up with, and take advantage of, this trend to lobby for increased funds and increased service – and UTRU certainly is ready to take this fight on as well.
Let us know what your experience has been and join UTRU in advocating for better transit for all!