TRAX changes bug downtown riders
It already was a grind getting from Ogden to South Salt Lake by public transportation.
On Monday, Karen Hoaglin's commute got just a little more irritating. The Utah Transit Authority changed some train and bus operations over the weekend, and now TRAX trains from Sandy stop and turn around at Arena Station, three stops shy of linking with FrontRunner at Salt Lake Central Station.
"That's a pain," she snarled on her way home Monday. "It sucks."
It means that she and anyone else who rides a northbound train from south of downtown Salt Lake City will have to transfer to a University line train to reach FrontRunner. They'll have to wait or walk two blocks to reach Clark Planetarium
UTA officials say the typical wait between trains will be seven minutes.
The same applies to riders heading south from the Salt Lake Central, Old Greektown or Planetarium stations: They'll have to transfer to a Sandy train between Arena and Gallivan Plaza or the train will take them toward the University of Utah.
Of course, there's a trade-off. The agency also found ways to better schedule FrontRunner trains through single-track sections, so that an Ogden-Salt Lake City trip is now six minutes faster. And a TRAX rider originating in Sandy and heading to the U. of U. has better service, because every half-hour between 5:30 a.m. and 7:30 p.m. there's now a northbound train that turns east before Gallivan. So every other train from Sandy is heading to the U. without requiring a transfer, and is labeled that way. That direct Sandy-U. link was the point of stopping northbound trains at Arena. By turning around there and making the return trip to Sandy, the agency saves time and cuts down on the number of cars it needs on the line at any time, which is a $2.5 million annual operating savings, spokesman Gerry Carpenter said. That money then goes into the Sandy-U. link.
Why? That's where the demand is, Carpenter said. After crunching the numbers over the year since the TRAX extension past Arena opened, UTA determined that most riders on northbound trains from Sandy exited at or before Arena, and most heading south exited at least by Gallivan for a U. train transfer.
Some casual riders on the TRAX line Monday had no complaints. A church group from Bountiful sat patiently waiting for a train back to FrontRunner after touring the new LDS Church History Library.
"It will be here in five minutes," Lowell Petersen said. "It works for us."
"It's pretty tight," group member George Merrill said of the impending FrontRunner connection, "but we'll make it."
Others feared they would miss appointments. Mike Landeros, a homeless man who needed to get to an appointment at a shelter south of Gateway, was surprised by the wait.
"It takes forever to get us where we want to go," he said.
Carpenter noted that UTA also has put on more buses to help with downtown traffic. For instance, a new route on 200 South runs every 15 minutes between Salt Lake Central Station and the U.
Northbound TRAX trains stop at Arena Station.
Every other northbound train travels to the U. until 7:30 p.m.
New FrontRunner schedules shave six minutes from Ogden-Salt Lake trip.
New bus route on 200 South runs from Salt Lake Central to the U.
Morning express buses from Roy and Clearfield stations allow riders to catch either a train or bus to Salt Lake every 15 minutes.
All TRAX schedules have shifted. The revised scheduled can be viewed at http://www.rideuta.com.