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West Jordan • Showing how important social media have become, the first public demonstration ride on the new Mid-Jordan TRAX line Friday went to families of "mommy bloggers," who write online about parenting and children's activities.
"These are some of Utah's top bloggers," said Tauni Everett, who handles social media for the Utah Transit Authority. "They are read all over the state and the nation. We hope they will advertise train safety for kids and parents."
Everett said bloggers will help spread the word about the new Mid-Jordan and West Valley City TRAX lines that begin service on Aug. 7.
About 30 bloggers and 95 children boarded a new TRAX train at Gardner Village in West Jordan for a round trip to the Daybreak area of South Jordan. Instead of a traditional news conference, UTA staged what may have been the first-ever "blogger conference" by a local government in Utah.
Children of the bloggers were handed paper bags with an engineer's hat, a train whistle (which children blew constantly), candy and a cardboard model of a TRAX train. Bloggers received free TRAX tickets as giveaways for readers.
Everett ran through some safety rules she hopes bloggers will spread.
"Trains are very, very dangerous," she said. "It's very important to observe safety when you are around trains. Whenever you are around train tracks, you should look both ways because trains come in both directions. And you should never step over the yellow line on the ground in the stations."
Last month, 15-year-old Shariah Casper was killed at a TRAX crossing on 3200 West near 8400 South. She and a cousin had waited for an eastbound train to pass. She then walked out in front of a westbound train, which she did not see because of a 12-foot-high sound wall.
UTA has since removed sound walls that block views at some crossings, and added more gates, signs and electronic warnings at pedestrian level to improve safety.
"I've never been on TRAX before. This looks like it will be a fun adventure," said Amy Chappell, who brought along her four children. She blogs about crafts and parenting.
Aaron Hall, a single father who boarded the train with two children in tow, blogs mostly about sports and faith. "But I grew up in Boston near the subway," he said. "I love trains and write about it, and that's probably how they found me."
Hall said he and his children ride TRAX and FrontRunner just for fun "because we love trains."
Pamela Cardwell, who blogs about crafts and activities for young boys, brought her three sons. She said she likes to ride TRAX arounddowntown destinations for children. "We're excited about this new line because we like to come to Gardner Village, and we have friends in Daybreak so we can take [the train]between them for fun."
Everett said UTA has been making increasing use of social media to spread its messages. It has a Twitter account it invited some of its more consistent viewers to ride along on Friday and accounts on Facebook, YouTube and Flickr, as well as its own blog and Internet sites.