Letter to the Editor: UTA not to blame for travel troubles

I can write pages and pages on Katherine Ellis’s piece published on Jan. 9 (“UTA needs to improve its services”), but I’ll leave it to these few points:
First and foremost, UTA can’t just flip a switch and say, ‘Gee guys, it’s time we stop providing substandard service to Salt Lake City.’ They operate based on the funding they receive. UTA has its hands tied, and any increase of funding would come through county-level ballot measures increasing the portion of sales tax that goes toward transit, or through support from the Utah Legislature.
FrontRunner actually has some of the best service, as far as commuter rail goes, west of Chicago. For example: commuter rail in Portland, a city widely considered the gold standard for transit service, runs only weekdays during rush hour, and only every thirty minutes at that. We’re pretty fortunate to have commuter rail that runs well into the night and on Saturdays.
It’s got to be super frustrating for Ellis to be late every single time she utilizes transit, but that experience is seriously anomalous. This is my fourth semester riding the bus and TRAX to school, and I can count on one hand the number of times I’ve been late to class more than a couple of minutes. On top of that, it takes me seven or eight minutes longer to take transit to school than to drive — not including the time it would take me to find parking — and I can use that time to be productive.
Furthermore, someone boards a bus or train on a typical day in the Wasatch Front 158,000 times. Seventy-five percent of those riders have access to an automobile, but choose travel on transit regardless. I doubt we’d be seeing these figures if UTA’s on-time performance were as dismal as is claimed.
Long story short? Transit in Salt Lake is not as bad as it seems to Ellis. Yeah, it can be loads better. But if you’re preaching that to UTA, you’re preaching to the choir.
Leo Masic
Sophomore, urban planning and political science