Tuesday, February 18, 2014

My view: UTA should be catering more to mothers.

I'm kind of a UTA power user if you will.  I am amazed each time I ride at just how friendly and helpful my fellow riders are most of the time.  Some of our funnest afternoons have been spent just riding and shooting the breeze with people on the train.  The drivers are, for the most part, really, really great too.
Some will even play along when Grayson asks where their "train man hat" is.  They are generally helpful and cheerful.  Most of the time.

What is not helpful is that UTA's policies, for the most part, are not mother friendly.

Here is where I am coming from:
In Salt Lake we live in a bowl, one that collects the poison from our tailpipes inside where we all breathe and, according to the experts the biggest solution is for us all to drive less.
Knowing that while I think it is helpful to cater the public transit system to commuters it is not
going far enough.  Who do you think is driving while everyone else is at the office?

That's right: Moms.

Here are my suggestions for making UTA more mom and child friendly:

1) Allow strollers.  NOT just folded ones. Everywhere.  Busses included.  Look, I get it.  Strollers are kind of a pain but do you know what else is a pain?  Lugging kids AND a stroller.  Have you ever tried to go grocery shopping with kids and then fold up your stroller and carry everything on a bus or train?  Or simply going without a stroller and arriving somewhere and having to carry your young children everywhere because you rode transit.  Without a stroller you bar mothers from riding transit because once they arrive at their destination they are kind of stuck either carrying tired kids or running after their kids.  Not very glamourus(or even possible).

Right now UTA has signs on each of their ramps on TRAXX and on their website they state buses that state that strollers are not allowed on the ramps and busses that kneel will not kneel for strollers.  Even though, most of the time, they will bend this rule it is still quite the gamble to get the kids out of the house, to the stop and then just hope that the driver is going to let you on.  This is enough to deter most people from making the effort.  If instead they are met with a smile and a helping hand to reward them for their efforts imagine what a difference that would make?

2) Make it fun and FREE for all kids.  Why not have the train man wear a train man hat?  Maybe even once a week?  Why not have it be Polar Express themed during the holidays?  Why not give stickers to young riders?  This is Utah, you have to do something great to get people out of their cars and give them, especially moms, a reason to go to the extra effort.  Everyone wins if more kids are riding.
We are training future transit riders, the air is cleaner and moms can interact with their kids more during the ride.  Why are we charging kids when they are at their most influential?  We need to see them as riding transit for free as a gateway drug if you will.  An SUV is free according to most families.  Don't add dollar sighs to riding transit.  It just doesn't make sense for the long run.

3) Have Mom ambassadors that will show new riders the ropes.  Look, I know that in the big cities you have to go it alone but usually moms have already been lifelong riders and get it.  We are teaching not only kids but oftentimes their parents how to use transit for the first time and integrate it into their lives. A helping hand can go a long way when you are already out of your element and throwing the kids in the car is oh so tempting.

There you go, these may seem simple but I think it would make a huge difference to ridership in our family friendly state.

Us, walking to the Traxx Station for a day running errands on transit.