Terryl Warner's husband commutes from Cache Valley to Salt Lake City, and when FrontRunner began operations about four years ago he found the train to be a convenient and affordable way to travel the Ogden to Salt Lake City leg of the trip. He paid the $120 monthly fee and left a car at the Salt Lake Intermodal Hub to drive to his teaching job.
But each year, the price of the monthly pass has increased. This year it is $198 a 65-percent increase over those four years.
Taking into account the commute from Cache Valley to Ogden, the cost of keeping a car in Salt Lake City and the rising price of the FrontRunner pass, the Warners decided it isn't worth it, so he is back to driving the entire distance.
Bottom of the caste system • I noted in Monday's column that, while UTA executives enjoy huge bonuses, drivers also can earn a $500 bonus by operating their UTA vehicles without accident for 1 million miles, which would take about 15 years.
One driver let me know that it used to be $1,000 for 1 million accident-free miles, but that amount has been cut in half. You could assume the cut came so UTA can better afford the big bonuses for the execs.
Adopt-a-pet program? • Wendy Rendon has tried to do her part in dealing with the growing problem of roving raccoons and skunks in the Salt Lake Valley.
She bought a trap and has snared several of the varmints live. She then calls the Division of Wildlife Resources, which sent agents to retrieve the animal.
It worked pretty well until recently.
She caught a raccoon and, as usual, called the DWR. But this time, she was told nobody could come get the animal.
Why not? Budget cuts.
No more money to help alleviate the pest problem in the valley. Now, folks are on their own.
The DWR told Rendon to call Salt Lake City. When she did, she was referred to Salt Lake County Animal Services. The county said they don't pick up live animals from traps and referred her to a private company whose agent said they would pick up the animal for $50.
So Rendon named the raccoon Rocky and he has become part of the family.
(That last part I made up.)
Catch-22, Utah style • The State Department of Administrative Services, through its fleet services division, has installed GPS tracking devices in most of the state cars to monitor the speed employees travel.
If an employee driving one of those cars exceeds the speed limit, an email is sent letting him or her know of the violation and, presumably, a copy goes in the employee file.
Seems like a good concept to ensure state employees are following the law when driving government vehicles.
But this is Utah, home of wing-nut drivers.
Some employees tell me when they drive the 65-mph speed limit on I-15, they get honked at, receive the middle-finger salute and cars swerve around them in dangerous ways all because they are going too slow for the flow of traffic, even though they are traveling the speed limit.
Government immunity? I've written about several speed traps around the Salt Lake Valley and warned drivers where they are. But I wonder what would have happened had there been a speed trap Friday at 9:30 a.m. on 7000 South between 1300 West and 1700 West.
Or at least a GPS tracking device.
There is an elementary school on the south side of the road and the overhead yellow lights indicating the 20 mph zone were flashing at the time.
That's when Stan Saltas of West Jordan noticed a state vehicle passing him and going about twice his speed, which was the required 20 mph. It was a blue Ford Escape, license plate 93897EX with state vehicle number 19137.