Tips & tools.
—by Katherine Pioli
Riding the bus can be tricky, if you’re not in the know. Here are some helpful tools to get you where you want to go with the least amount of hassle.
Find a bus
• UtahBusTracker– Opening this webpage brings up UTA’s vehicle monitoring service on a Google map of Salt Lake Valley. A column on the left side of the page lists bus routes – everything from the Avenues to canyon ski buses, flex buses, flex shuttles and express buses from Tooele to Provo to Ogden.
Click on the desired bus route and a red line appears on the map tracing the bus route. Bus icons on the route indicate the exact location of each bus. Every 15 seconds the map updates to show the vehicle’s movement. The map automatically zooms in and out or readjusts direction to encompass the entire route selected.
• UTA tracker App—This Android App available on Google Play is not an official UTA app, but it allows you to use UTA’s vehicle monitoring service on a handheld device. Other helpful tools in this app allow you to: download route schedules, see when the next vehicle will arrive by tapping on a stop, get notifications when a vehicle on a route is approaching a particular stop, and select your current location to get suggestions on nearby stops and routes.
• Transit SLC—Another app but for WindowsPhones only, this tool allows users to see when the next vehicle will arrive at a stop, to browse schedules, search routes, find taxi and airport information and more.
• UTA Facebook—UTA’s page posts service updates (such as accidents and weather-caused delays). People can also post comments (like reporting a bus that doesn’t show) and questions (like asking why Frontrunner doesn’t operate on Sundays) and get honest responses from UTA staff. Sometimes people even say “thank you”!
• UTA twitter feed—@RideUTA shares news and limited service updates. Users can make observations, ask questions and get helpful responses from UTA staff by writing the twitter feed using the hashtags: #UTA #Bus #UtahTransitAuthority #TRAX #FrontRunner .
• The Trip Planner on UTA’s website (http://rideuta.com)— This is a good place to plan your route. It’s right on the home page; simply give it your beginning location and destination and the time you wish to depart. UTA will deliver you several options to get you there, including estimated travel times and walking distances.
The new Sugar House streetcar
Called the S Line by Utah’s Transit Authority, the new track, which links to TRAX at Central Pointe Station on 2100 South, came online in December. Slower than most trains, the streetcar travels only about 15 mph to safely accommodate the neighborhoods it runs through. Ridership fees are the same as for other transportation, $2.50 per ride.
Free or reduced fare passes
SCHOOLS: The University of Utah offers free passes to all of their students and staff. Many other students (high school through college) are also eligible for passes through UTA’s discount program. Check the list on the UTA website to see if your school participates in the program, then order the electronic fare card online. Students must carry their pass and school ID while using public transportation.
COMPANIES: The annual Eco Pass and the monthly Co-op Pass are two different company-sponsored discount programs for businesses that want to help their employees use public transportation. Businesses must contact a UTA representative to set up a pass program.
FAREPAY: From now until March 14, 2014, buy FAREPAY rides at a 20% discount off the normal fare price. The reusable FAREPAY transit card allows users to prepay for their rides and makes getting on a bus, Express bus or TRAX as easy as swiping plastic (services not included are FrontRunner, ski buses, Park City connect, and Paratransit). Buy cards and manage accounts online at the UTA website. Currently, the site is not compatible with Safari or iOS browsers, but it does work in Chrome. http://www.RideUTA.com
WiFi is available to riders on UTA express routes and on FrontRunner trains at no extra cost. It is not available on TRAX.
Sometimes when the train or bus is running late it’s hard not to get mad at the service provider, but there are many unavoidable reasons why transit can get out of sync. Weather, especially in these snowy months, can cause delays. Train collisions with cars and pedestrians are another source of the problem.
Plan on arriving early at your bus stop. But know that the bus may be late.