Winter 2012

UTA SkiBus to Alta and the Zephyr to Sacramento

Greetings from Sacramento, California and the youth hostel here!
I arrived here yesterday on the early California Zephyr from Salt Lake City that arrived 7 minutes early after being early across the entire Great Basin of Nevada giving me the opportunity to get a photo essay of the chain linked fence shack at Elko, Nevada and new platform and more substantial shelter at Winnemucca. We were also twenty minutes early into Reno, this gave me the opportunity to explore the interior of the open-cut station a bit. Going through the Sierras were equally pretty for the third time but my one meal, lunch in the dining car was an extreme disappointment. I had the Amberger which I hadn’t tried in a long time and was disappointed. I was also with the serving staff who sat me with three teenage kids with me sitting down right as they were being served, it was a meal where I did not attempt any conversation and was almost happy to leave the dining car.
After arriving I just went for a long walk through Sacramento including touristy Old Town. Today I did the Light Rail within downtown, venturing out a little bit but not doing much since weekend headways are only every half-hour on the two city light rail lines. The majority of the day I spent visiting the Sacramento Railway Museum which was fairly interesting and reminded me of the London Transport Museum with the trains inside a two story, purpose built building, not an old subway station (like the New York Transit Museum) or railroad yard. The museum had some interesting displays, I particularly liked the dinging car with tables set with various historical types of railroad cutlery. This included two types for Amtrak until it cut food service in the late 1970s.
I should also mention the great (although snow is having an off years) 3 days I spent skiing at Alta with my Dad, particularly the way we got to our lodge Wednesday morning and back it was entirely via UTA public transit. We took the TRAX down to 7200 South and the SkiBus up to the mountain that cost only $4 each way! SkiBus is a really neat service using low-floor buses with a few seats removed for Ski Rack storage. Both trips were standing room only, full of skiers (some taking their skis on TRAX as well) as well as employees working at Alta and Snowbird. Another SkiBus runs to the Brighton and Solitude Ski Resorts, and UTA now runs a commuter bus to Park City in Summit County, Utah. These two transit services are a model for how a major city can provide service to its recreation opportunities (ahem Denver and Colorado, with no public options from the Front Range to Summit County, Colorado).