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UTA official: OGX had smooth first month, pushed overall ridership up in Ogden

By Rob Nielsen - | Sep 20, 2023

Rob Nielsen, Standard-Examiner

An Ogden Express bus charges while a second waits at Ogden Central Station on Friday, Sept. 15, 2023.

OGDEN — The Ogden Express bus rapid transit system has been having a smooth first month of operation, according to Utah Transit Authority officials.

The service began taking riders on Aug. 20 and has seen utilization through the start of school in Ogden and several late-summer events.

UTA spokesperson James Larson told the Standard-Examiner that while individual figures for the route won’t be known for a few weeks, total bus ridership in Ogden is up significantly.

“Ridership has actually jumped quite a bit,” he said. “Ridership has jumped, overall, from 224,000 riders per month to 239,000 riders per month.”

He said there’s little doubt that the new route, dubbed OGX, has been behind the jump.

“Statistically, I’ve looked through the trends over the past five years and we’ve seen dips in August in ridership,” he said. “In 2023, (it was) a substantial jump August through September, which is when we launched OGX.”

Larson said the system has run smoothly and many early concerns about transitioning to regular operations have largely not come to pass.

“Our big concern was with stations being in the middle of roads — would people stop to let pedestrians get into the middle stations?” he said. “So far, everyone’s been kind and allowed people to get in and out. People are using main roads. We haven’t seen anyone try to jaywalk through the middle of a road like Harrison Boulevard or Washington Boulevard to try to get over to the station. Cars are adjusting to the medians and we’re seeing people start to do U-turns like they do in Salt Lake at 32nd (Street) and 36th (Street). … For the most part, we’re seeing most people adjusting to these new changes in traffic patterns. We really haven’t seen issues with people driving in the bus-only lanes — I think a lot of that was attributed to having those roads red and having big signs that say ‘Bus Only.'”

He said this hasn’t always been the case with new BRT systems.

“When we launched UVX (Utah Valley Express), we had a lot of cars driving thinking those lanes were turn lanes instead of bus-only lanes,” he said. “It was a big education process.”

Although it will be a few weeks before specific ridership numbers come out on the service, Larson said operators have been seeing the service become popular.

“From an operator’s standpoint, they’ve told us their buses are full,” he said. “We’ve got students riding it to Holt Elementary, we’ve got students riding it to Mount Ogden Junior High, Ogden High School, Weber State University. We’ve started seeing patients utilize it to get to McKay-Dee Hospital. We’ve got students riding down from Weber State University to go to the downtown area. We’ve seen people using it for Ogden Twilight to get from the FrontRunner to the amphitheater. People are using it to get to Peery’s Egyptian (Theater) for different types of plays. Then we’re seeing a lot of our tourists and travelers that are coming for conventions, events or just coming down to visit and enjoy the Ogden area utilizing it to get to different restaurants and attractions.”

He said the UTA would like to see around 600% growth in ridership versus the route as it used to be, much like the UVX experienced in Utah County after implementation.

“We’re really going to be looking at the 603 route where we were traditionally compared to OGX, which is 603X,” he said. “That’s going to give us a good indicator that there’s demand at each of those different locations.”


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