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Some Utah transit riders becoming frustrated by inconsistency

Posted at 5:53 PM, Jul 25, 2023

SALT LAKE CITY — Michael Piper has been using public transportation since 2004, but recently he says using it has been a gamble.

"Sometimes it shows up early, sometimes it shows up late," Piper said. "The schedule is so people can be like, 'I can show up at this time 5-10 minutes early,' but if it's showing up 10 minutes early, it's like, 'just show up and hope for the best.'"

Earlier this month, Piper was in a race against time — and the heat — to get a vaccine back home after picking it up from a local health department.

"As soon as I got my vaccine, they informed me that this is a vaccine you have to take by mouth, it's really temperature controlled, you have to keep it refrigerated at all times," Piper recalled.

Even though Piper says he arrived at his bus stop to go home on time, the bus didn't come. This caused him to wait another 30 minutes for the next one, which he said was also late.

"We had a little ice pack inside the package, and when I got home, that thing was lukewarm. It would cost $120 just to get a new set of that vaccine, so I used what I could," Piper said. "For other people, how are they supposed to get around? if somebody needs to get a job interview, how are they supposed to get to where they need to go if it's going to be late?"

Carl Arky, a spokesperson for the Utah Transit Authority, says UTA does the best they can to keep things on schedule and recognizes the inconvenience for riders when they're not.

"We have people in our control centers at all times that are trying to reroute the buses and trying to get them where they're supposed to go and keep things on schedule," Arky said.

Arky says summer is the peak season for both public transportation users and construction, which can often cause traffic delays.

"That affects our buses and the routes and the timing of our buses. It can be construction, accidents, operator shortages that at times do affect our operations. There are road closures; we even have police activity," Arky said. "There are a variety of things that can unfortunately impact the buses and the timing and the schedules."

Arky encourages all public transportation users to download the transit app so they can stay up to date on bus times and track bus locations.

Piper is hoping his vaccine still worked and wants there to be more investment into public transportation in the future to make it more reliable.

"If it was more consistent and better, people would use it more," Piper said.