Casey Jones: UTA by the numbers

Because life is too long, and because there’s not enough suffering in the world, I ride the buses and trains of the UTA, the Usually Tardy Authority.

Riding public transit has its rewards.

You can work on the train. (If you don’t mind working without being paid.)

There’s the car payment you don’t have to make. (Unless, like me, you’ve got a car sitting in the driveway.)

And you get to put your pious on at the bus stop and look down your nose at passing commuters driving solo to work. (While breathing their exhaust fumes.)

And let’s not forget the hot meals and hot towels that the hot ride attendants serve ... in your dreams.

The hard reality is, doing the right thing — sacrificing my time and sanity to ride public transit and reduce my carbon footprint ­— gets old after awhile.

It is often standing room only at rush hour on Sandy trains. They put you on hold and play music so awful you’re compelled to hang up if you call to complain. And at the end of the day, you’re still walking home from the bus stop when, had you driven, you could already be watching Jersey Shore on Hulu and having a Heineken. (Driving would save me five hours a week.)

But what bugs me most is that, after a decade in the light-rail business, UTA still can’t make the trains run on time. Check that. The thing that bothers me most is that I’m the only one who seems to be bothered.

So I kept a diary documenting my travails for the month of July. Now, when somebody has the nerve to say “Oh, TRAX isn’t all that bad,” I’ve got evidence to back up my beef.

On July 2, a late train caused me to miss the finish of the NASCAR Nationwide race at Daytona. On July 16, a late train caused me to miss the first 15 minutes of my vacation. And another night, when the train was late and I finally got home, the neighbor said that someone had been at the door, and while it was probably the Jehovah’s Witnesses delivering the latest issue of The Watchtower it may have been the Publishers Clearing House Prize Patrol with a check for $1 million. Thanks, UTA.

Here’s the box score for July, based on 16 round trips.

By the numbers:

1) Times my bus failed to connect with the train.

3) Tablets of Pepcid.AC required for a UTA ride.

4) Times my train failed to connect with the bus.

5) Pins in my John Inglish Voodoo doll.

6) Exposures to extreme body odor.

8) Times I was forced to stand in stairwells of crowded trains. (Includes fleeing people with extreme body odor and surrendering seats to old ladies.)

9) Times I stood on the platform pointing at my watch to inform an arriving TRAX operator that he or she was running late.

16) Percentage of time I missed my connection.

20) Minutes to drive to work.

50) Approximate minutes to walk to bus stop, wait for bus, ride bus to train station, wait for train and ride train to work, if all goes well. Also, the percentage increase of my transit pass since June 2007.

75) Minutes of my life wasted by late trains and buses. Also, the cost of my monthly transit pass.

190/120) My blood pressure after an evening commute.

1) Lesson learned: Riding UTA is like rooting for the Jazz or relying on Jim Matheson. Don’t get your hopes up. They’ll only let you down.

E-mail Casey Jones at

Updated Aug 7, 2010 12:02AM


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