Sunday FrontRunner service still a bridge too far

Tuesday , July 22, 2014 - 5:01 PM

OGDEN — FrontRunner may or may not eventually run on Sundays, but the Ogden-Weber State University transit project by itself won’t tip the scales one way or another.

The Utah Transit Authority is currently conducting a nearly $900,000 transit study to determine how to best shuttle people between downtown Ogden, Weber State University and McKay-Dee Hospital.

The study is being funded jointly by UTA, Ogden City, WSU, McKay-Dee, Weber Area Council of Governments and the Utah Department of Transportation. It  includes two possible routes, with one heading up 23rd Street to Washington Boulevard, then up 25th Street to Harrison Boulevard, and along Harrison to the university and the hospital. An alternative route would go up 23rd Street to Washington, then up 30th Street to Harrison and finally to the school and hospital.

A streetcar system and a bus rapid transit system are being evaluated as the two possible modes.

Last month, UTA held a public open house, seeking initial public comment on the study. According to UTA, one of the most commonly asked questions from those who attended the open house was whether or not the project would spur UTA to begin offering FrontRunner service on Sunday.

According to UTA spokesman Remi Barron, the short answer is no, the long answer is maybe.

"(Sunday FrontRunner service) is something we’re constantly looking at,“ Barron said. ”And it’s something people were interested in at the open house, but that decision would involve a lot more factors than just this particular study.“

Barron said that right now, FrontRunner ridership primarily consists of commuters and students. As a result, Saturday numbers are significantly lower than weekdays.

As weekend ridership demand increases, Barron said, UTA will continue to examine the possibility of adding Sunday FrontRunner service. Barron said new service like the one proposed in Ogden and recent bus routes to Hill Air Force Base could contribute to a UTA decision to offer FrontRunner on Sunday, but would only be pieces of a much larger puzzle. 

"It would be based on demand up and down the Wasatch Front, along the entire (FrontRunner) system,” he said. “Any (Sunday) demand created by a new service would be a part of the equation, so (the Ogden Transit Project) could be a part of it, but it wouldn’t be the sole, determining factor.”

FrontRunner currently runs from Pleasant View in northern Weber County to Provo in central Utah County. 

As for the Ogden project, UTA will continue to hold public meetings, meet with project stakeholders and interested members of the community, conduct surveys and focus groups and then synthesize that information into the study. A ”locally preferred alternative,“ including an alignment and mode, will be submitted by December 2015 or January 2016.

Contact reporter Mitch Shaw at 801-625-4233 or Follow him on Twitter at @mitchshaw23.

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