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Thursday, June 22, 2017

SLC Transit Master Plan: More Executive Summary

Looking at the Executive Summary again.

It says:
Why a Grid Network? Salt Lake City’s existing, centralized hub model is effective for regional connections but is inefficient for some local trips. Currently, many of UTA’s routes terminate at Central Station, which provides good connectivity to commuter rail service, but creates challenges for people who need to travel to other destinations throughout the city, necessitating multiple transfers and/or indirect trips. The FTN builds on Salt Lake City’s strong street network grid. 
This concerns me a bit, because it displays a lack of understanding about transit operations. Many routes terminate at the central station, because that's where UTA has a facility.  Bus drivers, like other employees, get breaks and need to use the bathroom. UTA has a break room at Central Station for that reason.

Secondly, anyplace you have an 'end of line' you need someplace to store transit vehicles. This is especially true of places with high 'peak' loads (morning/evening/event). So many buses wind up at the Central Station because the Central Station has a place to store them. I asked someone at UTA how much land it takes for a bus center, like the ones at TRAX stations, and was told 2-3 acres. That's a lot of land.

Third: Transfers are actually a good thing, as Jarrett Walker point out. Essentially, with a fixed budget, you can choose longer waits but direct service, or shorter waits with a transfer. Research shows that transit riders hate waiting even more than they hate transferring.

I am all for the Frequent Transit Network (FTN). Higher frequency means shorter wait times. But frequent transit is always going to be in limited supply, because high frequency comes at the cost of coverage. That means only a few corridors are going to get it, which means most streets aren't going to get it. The street grid is irrelevant in this regard.