My Transit Story. What's yours?

We want to hear your transit story. We want to know why you ride transit in Utah, where you go, and when you go. We want to hear the good, the bad and the ugly -- after all this Riders Union exists to make our transit systems better to serve the needs of the riders. We need to keep what works and change what doesn't. Telling your story will make that possible.

My transit story starts in the late '70's when my family moved from the east bench of Salt Lake City to the unincorporated area of Sandy known as White City. The number 33 stopped right at my house in both directions. As a 12 year old, the bus gave me freedom that had never existed before. In the morning I could cross the street to go downtown, or connect with the 31 to visit my brothers. At night, when I came home, the stop was located on the property line. It was literally door-to-door service. My younger brother and I would use the number 23 to visit the State Capitol Building. It was here that we wandered into the governor's office and asked to see then governor Scott Matheson -- who made time to usher us into his office and chat with us. The bus also took me to Middle School for a dime each way. However, my activism against UTA started when I protested the fare increase to a quarter. I learned from former representative Sam Taylor, a big proponent of transit, that fares must be low and service great in order to have a workable transit system. I attended every public meeting to voice my opposition, but the fares were raised any way. 

Through the years, even when I started driving, I would use public transit as often as possible, but many times it simply was not convenient; service wasn't late enough or routing wasn't efficient. When I lived in Sugar House and attended the University, my late night class ended about the same time the most convenient Night Ride route #132 left. That meant I had to take the #129 to 7th East to catch the #133 to get to 17th South to walk two blocks to home. That trip took 90 minutes.

As an accountant, I don't fit the typical transit user profile. I don't commute since I work from my home office and I don't rely on public transit as my sole means of transportation. But I do use it. I currently live on a 15 minute route, the 209 and one block from another 15 minute route, the 45. In 2013, after hearing that UTA executives, board members, and elected officials jumped on a plane to Switzerland -- even though it was declared that restoring and expanding bus service was UTA's number one priority, I penned an editorial in the Salt Lake Tribune that eventually led to the founding of the Utah Transit Riders Union.

I believe that even though UTA has seen fantastic increase in ridership numbers, that this only the tip of the iceberg. Once we have a frequent network of buses and trains, more people will want to ride because our transit system will get them where they want to go, when they want to go there. We've put together a great group of individuals committing to doing just that.

We all have transit stories to share. What's yours?

Christopher Stout
President & Co-Founder
Utah Transit Riders Union