Frontrunner Breakdowns Illustrate Problems With Underdeveloped Transit

Last night a southbound Frontrunner train broke down right in the narrows, stranding travelers in a remote area that couldn’t be reached by bus. To make matters worse, the heater apparently wasn’t working and the temperature dropped into the low single digits.

The Frontrunner train pulls into the Lehi station. A southbound train broke down Thursday night just before reaching this station.

The Frontrunner train pulls into the Lehi station. A southbound train broke down Thursday night just before reaching this station.

All public transit will have some delays — indeed car transit also has many delays — but this incident illustrates some of the problems with a public transit system in a car-centric place. Specifically, it shows what happens when there’s only one (transit-based) way to get around: everything grinds to a halt.

I’ve experienced many transit delays, breakdowns and even strikes in various cities. But in most of my own experiences when something breaks down people choose another route. It may take longer, but it beats sitting in a stopped train in eight degree weather. With Frontrunner however, a breakdown stops everything.

In this particular case a lot of the blame goes to the unusual geography and population distribution — the train really broke down in the worst possible place. Utah is also getting better and better when it comes to public transit. And of course, the bus was still running.

But the best thing to do in this situation would have been to drive a car, which is a shame because in places with more robust public transit periodic hiccups on a single line don’t necessarily render entire systems useless.

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2 Comments

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2 responses to “Frontrunner Breakdowns Illustrate Problems With Underdeveloped Transit

  1. I was actually waiting for this train in Provo last night. When it didn’t come we just decided to drive to instead. We called UTA on the way and got a refund for the group pass we purchased, got to Salt Lake before our train would’ve arrived, and paid $1 for parking at City Creek. Driving was the only alternative and too convenient an alternative.

  2. heidi mitchell

    I tried the GruntRunner for December and January and my experiences weren’t getting better and neither was my mood. I had to take the month of February off so I could remember the happy person I “used” to be. I’ve never experienced such frustration – so much wonder as to why things were done the way they were done. I’ve never experienced such creative customer service (good and bad) from anywhere else but UTA, Now, driving my car 30 miles from Camp Williams to Downtown Salt Lake is a breeze. And, I arrive at work with a smile on my face. Train time one way – 75 minutes of misery IF the train was on time – took me 2 hours one morning. UTA Express bus – 40 minutes, comfortable, relaxing. Driving my car – 35 minutes with some minor congestion during high peak hours. The final decision —– No thanks UTA. I sincerely gave it my best shot, but I’ll do whatever I can to stay off that Blinkin Train from here on out. UGH.

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