Showing posts with label Frontrunner Train. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Frontrunner Train. Show all posts

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Public Transportation Know-How (Part 2) #Frontrunner Saga

After the first day of harrowing experiences and mishaps, almost freezing to death, trying to navigate the Public Transit System using the UTA Bus and the new Frontrunner train, I would think most would give up and quit their jobs or at least forget using the transit system. But I knew that this was going to work, I just knew it! Besides, I have ridden the train maybe once in my life before this and so this was definitely a novel experience and I was having fun riding it! It was worth another shot! 

The next morning, unlike the morning before, I went armed with a schedule, even more layers of clothing and new knowledge of where the train actually left. I was not disappointed. The train came about 5 minutes late at the South Jordan Station and I was on my way. I found out from another commuter that there is actually a phone app called Isis that will check you onto the train for free in the month of January.  Unfortunately my phone doesn't support that app.  Plus, I use more than just the Frontrunner.  I use the Bus as well.  So I need an All Day pass.  When I arrived in Provo, I hopped onto the bus and waited until it left. Easy peasy. I was dropped off at the closest location again. This time there was no one to pick me up and chauffer me to school so I had to walk.  I  arrived at work about 15 minutes late.  Not cool.  I needed to arrive on time or it wasn't going to work.  

So Troy, the head teacher in my unit, was nice enough to send out a mass e-mail to all the teachers and staff asking if anyone passed by the Frontrunner Station on their way to the school.  I got some good responses, even one great co-worker who was willing to go out of his normal route to pick me up!  But the best one was from Margaret, the School Secretary, who asked if I had thought about riding a district school bus from the train station. A light went on in my brain!  Yes!  The train station is in the school boundaries!  I called the District Transportation Office and talked to Delayna, Head of Transportation.  She gave me the closest stop to the train station and permission to ride in on the school bus. 

The next morning, I got off the train and started walking to where I was to meet the school bus.  This was another new experience for me.  Throughout all of  my school years, I had never ridden a school bus.  I had always been close enough to walk or ride my bike. So I was looking forward to the experience!  I found the stop and waited with another girl.  She was so nice and helpful.  Her name is Carlotta.  The bus came and I arrived at school on time!  

Catching the train on the way back involved matching up the schedule to get me to the train so I wouldn't have to wait outside in the cold for very long.  At first I was trying to take a bus back to the station where I arrived.  But I then realized that I should catch a bus going in the opposite direction and catch the train further north than where I arrived in the morning,  No sense in going back south when you want to end up north.  Fortunately, there is a station north of there, in Orem, and the bus goes there.  

So there you have it, my experience making public transit work for me to go to and from work on the train!  If I can do it, anyone can!  Taking the train saves me about $5 per day in gas, plus it saves a ton on wear and tear of my vehicle, all while avoiding the stress of driving in winter weather and riding the train is so much fun! I hope the novelty never wears off!

Monday, January 21, 2013

Public Transportation Know-How (Part 1) #Frontrunner Saga

It took me exactly 5 days to fully tweak my 75 mile route from home to work and back.  I have decided that I don't want to drive that round trip every day.  Since I moved to Sandy, UT from Provo, UT I have become a commuter.  I had it so easy before the move.  My work was MAYBE 3 miles from my home.  Now it's considerably longer.  But I like my job--I work at a the only alternative high school in Utah County, a school for kids who for one reason or another can't hack it at a regular high school. I am fond of the kids, the teachers, the staff, and the administration.  We all work together to do a good job in helping the students get the help they need to graduate and have the skills they need to flourish after high school.  

The first 3 months of commuting were fine.  The weather was generally good, it was still light in the mornings, and although I-15 was under construction, I left early enough in the morning that it really didn't affect me too badly.  December came along and for awhile it was even better because the construction ended.  But then came the first few snowstorms.  I don't like driving in the snow. Plus my car registration expired and the wear and tear on my vehicle tells me that it might take a lot to get it passed. 

Luckily we just got our new FrontRunner train system running into Utah County and back!  It is a high speed, 3-level train that runs from Provo all the way north to Ogden. We even took our class to Salt Lake City on it.  They all loved it and I was thinking in the back of my mind how nice it would be if I found a way to commute to school using this system!

That's me thinking this.  The one who has never used public transit.  The one who thinks a bus schedule is written in ancient Sanskrit because it looks so foreign.  But on Monday, January 14th I made the leap.  I left home and showed up at what I thought was a reasonable hour in front of what I thought was a Frontrunner Station. I found a guy who looked like he was waiting too. Why read a schedule that I couldn't figure out anyway?  I asked him, "Are you headed South?"  He answered in the affirmative.  I further queried. "What time does the train leave?"  He told me that it doesn't go south from here, only north.  I could have sworn that Frontrunner stopped in South Jordan and made stops all the way down to Provo.  But I didn't say anything, for fear of looking stupid. I should have said something.  I later found out that this wasn't even a  Frontrunner Station.  It was a Trax Station.  Totally different rail system.  He said that the next bus would take me to Lehi and there I could hop onto the train from there.  Mind you, it was the coldest day so far of the year, with near record-breaking cold.  We stood there for another 15 minutes.  I was only wearing 2 shirts, a thin pair of gloves a wool sweater and a neck warmer.  I almost froze!  Finally the bus came and I felt I was finally on my way.  I thought the worst was over. But I was wrong.
A few remaining brave souls before the train pulled in
 When the bus pulled up in Lehi, the Frontrunner wasn't there.  As a matter of fact, it was very late. So I and maybe 20 other poor souls stood in sub-zero temperature, ready to succumb to the cold.  I, of course, didn't know if the next train was heading north or south.  But at that point, I didn't care.  I was getting on the next train, just to keep warm.  The train finally came.  It was about 30 minutes late and most of the poor, freezing souls who had cars there, had already left.  Fortunately for me, the train was headed south.  I got on, visibly shaking. The train arrived in Provo and my next problem was to get to the school. 
I took this shot while waiting for the train.
  There were buses waiting, but I didn't know what bus to take.  So again, I started asking.  I finally found the bus that passed closest to my school. I got in and was thankfully shielded from the cold.  But it wasn't leaving.  I was already quite late to work and this was delaying it even more.  But I waited....   

I finally arrived at the closest stop to work and started hoofing it.  I had only gone a few feet when Brian, a fellow co-worker who was transporting some boys on the work crew, saw me.  He asked me if I needed a ride and I hopped in!  I arrived at school 2 1/2 hours late. 

Now to get home!  That was fairly easy.  At least at first.  My friend, Diana, came and picked me up and kept me at her house until the next train arrived.  (I decided to try and decipher the schedule this time.  Probably a good idea.)  We had a great time and caught up on news and happenings. I got on the train fine, along with her son who was headed to Salt Lake and still not realizing that I hadn't left from a Frontrunner Station, got off at the South Jordan Station.  I walked around trying to find my car, but couldn't locate it.  This station looked really different than it had this morning.  It was still freezing cold.  Again I asked a knowledgeable Public Transit traveler.  This time I was a little more forthcoming and confessed that I didn't know what the hell I was doing.  I couldn't even find my car.  I then, with her help, realized that I had parked my car at a Trax Station and my car wasn't even there!  No wonder I couldn't find my car.  (The cold did more than freeze my butt, it apparently froze my brain!)  So I waited for the next bus going to the Trax Station.  In the cold.  I was so done.  The bus came, delivered me to the Trax Station, I found my car with ease, and drove home.  

I had been gone for 12 long hours, at least 2 of those in absolutely intolerably freezing cold conditions and I needed to go to bed.  I took a really hot shower, and fell into bed.  But I wasn't giving up.  The next day....(Stay tuned for Part 2)