OGDEN -- A new Utah Transit Authority bus route should make commuting easier for Weber State University students, but residents of an Ogden neighborhood where the buses will pass through say enough is enough.
On Aug. 26, UTA will start weekday fast-bus service between the Ogden Transit Center and WSU. The new route has minimal stops and UTA says it will reduce overcrowding on other bus routes and help students reach campus 10 minutes faster than they would using local buses.
From the transit center, the route heads south on Wall Avenue to 28th Street, then east to Washington Boulevard, east along 30th Street, and south on Harrison Boulevard until hitting 36th Street and proceeding east, then winding back west through the campus.
Residents living on 36th Street above Harrison Boulevard say there are already too many buses that pass through their neighborhood. The residents say the buses are noisy, travel at high rates of speed and pass by their homes multiple times each weekday.
"I'm still trying to figure out why they need even more buses to drive by my house every day," said Jennifer Ewing, who lives on the far northeast end of 36th Street. "The buses they already have for Weber State are never full. Why do they need more?"
Michael Stokes lives just east of Ewing and said he also has some major trepidation about more buses on his street.
"They are loud enough to wake us up in the morning," Stokes said. "Aside from the buses, this is a pretty quiet street. I don't like the thought of having even more coming up here, and even more frequently. The buses already change the dynamic of this street completely and adding more will have an even more dramatic effect."
Another resident of the neighborhood, Mike Coffey, said he's glad WSU students have options to get them to and from school, but he still feels like there are too many buses going through his neighborhood.
"I'm totally in favor of public transit," he said. "And I think service to Weber State is a good service and it's needed, but through here, it's just overkill."
The new Route 650 will depart from the transit hub to WSU every 30 minutes from 7 a.m. to 10 a.m. Buses heading back to the transit hub will depart WSU every 60 minutes from 10:45 a.m. to 2:45 p.m.
Each year, the service will begin on the first day of fall semester and run every weekday while school is in session.
UTA spokesman Remi Barron said the new route was created in response to crowding on other WSU buses.
"Ogden City and WSU have expressed interest in the service," he said. "UTA was operating a de facto service last school year using helper buses to reduce crowding. Now the service is formalized, better marketed, and operated with more trips."
Although residents along 36th Street say they often see empty buses pass by their homes, Barron said preliminary UTA research shows that students are responding very favorably to the new route.
"If observations on Route 603 prove to be accurate indicators, we expect about 20 (people) to make connections with trains on every bus when everyone becomes aware of the service," Barron said of potential ridership on the new route.
Ewing said she also believes in public transportation and hopes students will take advantage of the new service. She just wishes it could avoid 36th Street.
"I think they should just run the route through the university," she said. "I know they like to come up 36th and curve around into the university, but couldn't they just head up through the school, turn around and come back down? It would save a lot of people on our street a lot of headache."