I know we're a long way from Valentine's Day, but I feel the overwhelming urge to profess my love ... for the Utah Transit Authority.
Hear me out, good readers. Please.
Today is "change day," in the parlance of Wasatch Front straphangers. On certain dates throughout the year, UTA route planners -- whom I believe studied their sadistic arts during long, cruel prison sentences -- tweak the system's bus, train and light-rail schedules to "better serve" their customers.
They perform this task at the direction of poorly paid executives who would be able to spend much more time with family members and friends were it not for their many overseas trips. Why are they trotting the globe? In order to observe and analyze public-transit systems -- and this next part is, honest-to-goodness, purely coincidental -- in the most travel-destination-desirable cities on planet Earth.
I know what you're thinking: Love the UTA? Really?
I follow a particular religious-faith tradition in which we are counseled to give thanks for our afflictions. In order to conquer the ugliness and grief life hands us, we can move on only by accepting life's difficulties and viewing them as opportunities to grow and progress.
I'm a born complainer, so my win-loss record in this regard is, at best, lamentable. For example, I'm not the guy who says: "Thank you, Lord, for this broken foot. Now I may learn to walk on crutches and stifle my pride enough to allow my neighbor to mow the lawn."
It is with this philosophy that I approach the UTA, whether on "change day" or any other. You see, I ride a train, a bus and, sometimes, light rail every weekday. I've been doing this for almost five years. And while frustration with the UTA has worn down my teeth - from all the gritting - elevated my blood pressure as effectively as my regrettable eating habits and inspired combinations of adjectives, adverbs and nouns that turn the air a deep, dark blue, I have today resolved to love the UTA for what it's doing to me, my fellow commuters and the million-plus taxpayers in the counties it serves.
To wit: I love that on Aug. 7, there was no 7:26 a.m. southbound FrontRunner train from Clearfield. I love that there was no explanation why the train didn't arrive (or, of course, depart). Instead of getting to work at a decent time, I was able to chat with my friend Greg on the platform for an extra 30 minutes.
I love that the scheduled arrival of my downtown bus to the North Temple FrontRunner station is so frequently late, it allows for missed connections and an extra half-hour spent in the sweltering sun or bone-chilling cold awaiting the next train.
I love that the Weber County 613 bus will no longer serve the Business Depot Ogden, because nobody works there anyway.
I love it when the ticket kiosks at one end of the two-kiosk platforms don't work, because I can watch panicked customers sprint to the opposite end. It's even better when that kiosk is also out of order. Their choice: miss the train or risk being ticketed for not purchasing the fare. Talk about spreading the love.
I love it when UTA police officers check for passes and/or single-ride fares while I'm sleeping comfortably: nappus interruptus.
I love that there is lousy to nonexistent Wi-Fi on the single-deck Comet cars, which have extremely comfortable seats. This provides more opportunity for sleep (see above).
There you have it, UTA. I'm completely lovesick. Emphasis on "sick." You transit executives should ride your own system sometime - you'll be lovesick, too.
Email Don Porter with your own UTA love stories at firstname.lastname@example.org.