LAYTON — A pair of transit shuttles — one that serves Davis County’s largest city and another that circulates around one of the area’s largest tourist attractions — will remain free to all riders for at least the next year.
Both Farmington and Layton have renewed their downtown trolley service contracts with the Utah Transit Authority — which means the central city shuttles will continue to operate free of charge throughout 2021.
The two cities previously entered into agreements with UTA that involve one-year city options to fund and renew the free service. UTA Fares Director Monica Morton said that as part of the agreement, the cities pay 25% of the operating costs of the service. As for the new renewal agreements, Farmington is set to pay UTA $74,090 in 2021 to keep the shuttle free, while Layton will pay $162,760, according to UTA board documents.
UTA now runs three, fixed-route free trolley services in the Ogden-Clearfield Metropolitan Area. The Layton Midtown Trolley was launched first, in 2016. The free bus route runs between the Clearfield and Layton FrontRunner stations and serves nearby hotels and restaurants, the Layton Hills Mall, the Davis Hospital and Medical Center, the Tanner Clinic, the Utah Department of Workforce Services and the Davis Conference Center.
Farmington’s trolley service began in 2018. It connects the Station Park shopping center in the more recently developed section of the city with the Lagoon amusement park in the historic part of town. The route runs between the Farmington FrontRunner Station and the amusement park, stopping at key spots like the shopping plaza, the Hampton Inn and Main Street.
Free service on a similar shuttle in Ogden was also recently renewed through 2021. Ogden’s service began in late 2019 and makes stops at key locations throughout the city’s downtown area.
The shuttles are not exactly traditional trolleys, but rather customized buses designed to resemble a 20th century cable car. Red, with gold and green trim, the buses are manufactured by the Gillig Corp. The vehicles have solid oak seats and brass stanchions which, according to the Gillig website, “combines classic trolley appeal with the quality and contemporary features of our standard transit bus.”
While the cities contribute to the service, the routes also make use of the 2015 Proposition 1 ballot measure. The measure gives counties that approved it annual money for road projects, sidewalks, bike and pedestrian paths, and increased mass transit service. The local-option tax was on the ballot in 17 of Utah’s 29 counties, passing in 10.
Voters in Weber and Davis counties passed the tax, but it failed in Morgan and Box Elder counties. The tax doesn’t apply to medical bills, utilities, mortgages, loan payments, gas, prescriptions or groceries. Forty percent of the total revenue collected goes to cities, 40% goes to UTA and 20% goes to counties.