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Kirby: Getting my money's worth out of TRAX

Published July 6, 2014 6:05 pm

This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2014, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

Utah Transit Authority is worried that its $360 Hive Pass hasn't sold better. The substantially discounted yearlong rail, bus and streetcar pass has not pulled in as many new riders as hoped.

I don't need a bargain pass to ride TRAX more frequently. What I would like to see is a club car or a place to get a drink on the 40-minute ride from my house to The Tribune.

Kidding. I don't drink anymore. But there have been times on TRAX when I've given some thought to starting again. Sitting knee-to-knee for 30 minutes with a malodorous pirate who won't stop staring at me isn't a restful commute.

Pirate: "That's a nice coat. Do you like that coat? Where did you get that coat? I wish I had a coat like that. Could I try on that coat?"

Me: "This is my co … uh, my stop."

But there are parts about TRAX that I really like. And usually they come as a surprise.

Last November I found someone else's debit card in a TRAX ticket machine. I wrote a column about locating the owner. It was quite the adventure.

Then it was my turn. Last month, my own debit card disappeared from my wallet. I had no idea how. I just opened it and the card was gone.

A former banker, corporate tax preparer, and the only one in our marriage who can count higher than double digits, my wife insisted that I find it immediately.

Me: " It's protected by a secure PIN."

Her: "Your PIN is 1234."

When I demanded to know how she could possibly know my PIN number, she said 39 years of being married to the most careless person in the world made me completely transparent. And that 1 2 3 4 was as high as I could count.

I searched for an entire day and never found it. So I called the bank, canceled the card and ordered a new one.

Now for the good news. Someone else found my debit card. Jose Pimentel found it on the Daybreak Parkway TRAX platform and turned it in.

I see Jose at least once a week. That's about how often I actually go into the newsroom because my editor wants some proof that a Hogle Zoo ape isn't writing my column.

Jose probably works for a company that contracts with TRAX. He works the red line from the Daybreak stop, picking up after slobs, finding lost items, and cleaning off the seats people won't stop putting their feet on. We've become platform buddies.

What I know about Jose is that he's from El Salvador and this is his second job. He's married and has children. He's scrupulously honest, constantly cheerful and lets me practice my Spanish on him.

Jose: "Como esta hoy?" [How's it going today?]

Me: "Como diablos voy a saberlo, Jose? Estoy casado." [How the hell would I know, Jose? I'm married.]

Jose has held the TRAX car door for me when I'm late and the train is about to leave. He asks about my grandkids, and tells me about the last column of mine he read. Our time together is usually about five minutes and it never fails to brighten my day.

Jose Pimentel is the best part of my TRAX commute. If TRAX wants to make me happier about riding, they can ignore the club car suggestion and just give Jose a raise.