Ogden seeks express bus service to WSU

Sep 4 2011 - 10:20pm

OGDEN -- The city council is requesting that the Utah Transit Authority explore the possibility of establishing express bus service to provide a short-term mass transit solution for a busy corridor from the downtown Intermodal Hub to Weber State University.

However, UTA officials maintain there isn't funding available for the service.

The express bus would be a temporary fix to provide quicker transportation for passengers between the Intermodal Hub at 23rd Street and Wall Avenue and Weber State, said City Councilman Brandon Stephenson. It could also test the viability of a streetcar system, he said.

The council has not determined whether it would want the express bus to continue to operate if a street car system is built, he added.

The council initially made the request for the express bus in June, when it persuaded a group of stakeholders to temporarily stop work on a $160 million proposed streetcar project.

The council asked that the study be halted so its consultant, G.B. Arrington, of PB PlaceMaking Inc., based in Portland, Ore., can determine the viability of federal funding and economic impact of a streetcar system linking the Intermodal Hub to Weber State University and McKay-Dee Hospital.

At a meeting in July, several members of a streetcar policy committee said the express bus isn't feasible.

But Bill Cook, the city council's executive director, said the council still wants UTA to undertake an express bus study that would examine potential costs, ridership, scheduling and other issues.

UTA is willing to conduct an in-house study of the express bus but has no funds to establish service, Gerry Carpenter, a spokesman for UTA, said. Sales tax revenue for UTA is $70 million less than what was projected for 2011 prior to the national recession, he added.

Carpenter said a streetcar system is the most effective mode of transit between the Intermodal Hub and Weber State and McKay-Dee Hospital.

"The streetcar is the best long-term solution," he said.

The council would like the bus to run along its preferred streetcar route from the Intermodal Hub on Wall Avenue up 23rd Street to Washington Boulevard, along Washington to 25th Street, up 25th to Harrison Boulevard and on to Weber State University and McKay-Dee, Cook said.

The council maintains that route would foster development and best serve residents, particularly Weber State students.

A study spearheaded by UTA indicates its preferred route for the streetcar is along 36th Street between Washington and Harrison rather than 25th Street.

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