Recently, UTA announced its Long-Range Transit Plan (LTRP): UTA Moves 2050.
UTRU has reviewed the plan and has responded. We are releasing our thoughts on the plan based on geographic area over the course of this week – but if you just can’t wait, you can view the full response now by clicking here.
Our release schedule is:
Monday: Introduction to UTRU, UTRU’s opinion of the plan, and an Executive Summary
Tuesday: System Wide Review
Wednesday: Salt Lake County Review
Thursday: Utah County Review
Today: Davis and Weber Counties Review
Saturday: Tooele, Box Elder, and Summit Counties Review
This response was approved by UTRU’s Board of Directors on October 17, 2023, and presented to UTA on October 30, 2023.
Davis and Weber Counties
Southern Davis County
- A 30-minute bus route connecting the Power Trax station and Lakeview Hospital in Bountiful via Redwood Road and the Woods Cross FrontRunner Station will help further connect the bedroom community with both FrontRunner and Salt Lake.
If implemented, this route would mark the return of regular bus service to the Woods Cross FrontRunner station, which hasn’t been seen a regular bus route since the area converted to an Innovative Mobility Solutions Zone (IMSZ) service. In addition, this route would also take advantage of one of the few viable routes between Utah’s largest and third largest counties.
It is worth noting that Woods Cross is only one of two FrontRunner Stations that do not have a single bus route currently connecting the station (the other being American Fork). Though both should have regular bus service, the American Fork Station is somewhat on the edge of a community with other stations relatively closer to it – the Woods Cross Station, on the other hand, is squarely in the middle of the geographic region where other FrontRunner access points are sparse.
All this is to say that we hope UTA implements this particular route sooner rather than later. Yes, the IMSZ serves the stop, but as we have said before, this is not ideal in UTRU’s opinion.
- Though the idea of a Trax extension north to Davis County has been kicked around for years, we are still happy to see the Davis – SLC Community Connector Rapid Line proposed on the LRTP. The increased frequency and shorter route between Farmington and Salt Lake only makes sense as the two areas are so interconnected when compared to the 470, which spans Ogden to Salt Lake and largely runs alongside FrontRunner. Southern Davis County riders will have increased options while those taking longer trips won’t lose much with the more easterly and northern Davis County being able to take the train for their trips to Salt Lake and alternate express routes into Ogden.
- Though one bus route connecting to the Woods Cross Station is, mathematically, infinitely more than the current zero routes that currently go to the station, we can’t help but think that the Woods Cross FrontRunner Station is still underutilized. The real issue is that Southern Davis County is lacking any “community” routes, instead focusing on moving people north and south. Though the Bountiful hills are hard, we feel there is a missed opportunity to not include a route that includes the Centerville, Bountiful, and Foxborough communities along 400 East and 500 South via the FrontRunner Station.
- Southern Davis County is very close to being out of space and has largely matured into established communities with predictable patterns. The only thing that can truly disrupt this is going to be transit and the opportunities that transit stops can bring. We hope that civic leaders in these communities welcome transit (particularly rapid transit and development around FrontRunner) to help address smart growth, and trust that UTA will be a leader in these conversations.
Northern Davis County
- Security and logistical concerns aside, it is nice to see bus service going directly through Hill Air Force Base. Hill is a major employer for the state in general and is of particular importance for the region and those who live and work around Hill also know just how backed-up traffic can get during shift changes.
Though we aren’t quite sure how security will work in regards to this route (stops have security holding areas? Drivers have to pass specific background checks?) this route could go a long way towards helping improve area traffic and quality of life for residents.
- All three FrontRunner Stations: Farmington, Layton, and Clearfield Station, are well utilized under the LRTP, with several fixed routes originating from the stops, respectively. Given the relatively tight geographic area of Davis County, in many ways it is almost difficult for UTA not to include FrontRunner stops as part of any route in this area.
- In what seems like a theme, UTA has largely abandoned the foothills in Davis County, not even offering IMSZ service in the majority of the area. Only one route mildly penetrates Kaysville and Layton, while the other mainly sticks to Highway 89 as express service to the east side of Weber County. The missing middle ensures that the majority of Northern Davis County residents continue to not have transit as an option in their transportation mix.
- We are also disappointed to see how underserved the Freeport Center is. One route on the east side of this major economic area feels like a missed opportunity and a route departing from either the Layton or Clearfield FrontRunner Station that runs down 7th or 9th Street before exiting and going down 1500 West in Clinton before connecting with the Roy Station have some real potential.
- Similar to many parts of Utah County and Southern Salt Lake County, Northern Davis County really was made for the car and this does make establishing fixed routes difficult. As we have said before, we hope that UTA uses data gathered by IMSZs to identify areas where potential fixed routes are viable and, where possible, create fixed routes while IMSZ supplements service.
- Though increased frequency is a theme across the LRTP, the emphasis on 15-minute service in the urban core of Ogden is of critical importance, and one we are happy to see. OGX is already raising expectations in the community, and we have no reason to doubt that this trend will change in the future.
As the Ogden area continues to grow its image as an area whose economy is built on the environment and outdoor activity, reliance on public transit will become key to upholding this image. We hope that the community follows in Salt Lake City/County’s footsteps by increasing taxes to help further fund transit.
- The biggest disappointment is that, aside from frequency, there is nothing really new here. As is the theme, the foothills remain unserved, even by an IMSZ, and we can’t spot any new routes or major route deviations. The whole LRTP feels unimaginative and unwilling to try expand transit in and around an area.
- The Ogden-Hinckley Airport is a bit out of place in regards to transportation and transit access, but is right next to the Roy Station, so it feels like some attempts should be made to connect it to the transit system.
With Allegiant Air pulling out of the airport, it is understandable why UTA may not want to connect to the airport at this time. But, on the flip side, there is a logic to have a route connecting the airport that departs at the Roy station, stops at the airport, and travels along Washington and/or Wall before hooking into the Ogden Station. The hub with OGX would allow for easy transfers and would provide an option for those flying in and out of the airport whose final destination may be Weber State or McKay-Dee Hospital.
Ultimately, one has to wonder if there is an “if you build it, they will come” aspect to connecting to the airport.
Greater Weber County
- One bright spot in Weber County for the LRTP is the route connecting the Roy FrontRunner Station to Weber State along 40th Street, This addition should help take some pressure off of OGX and provide more service to the southern end of Ogden. This is a much-needed southern connection for the county and helps better utilize the Roy Station.
- Similar to our complaint about routes on the east side of I-15, we have to wonder if UTA even bothered to consider new routes west of I-15, since there is nothing new here either. The IMSZ service is nice, but even that isn’t comprehensive in the region. We are just profoundly underwhelmed by what is being offered here.
- We want to be more excited about the limited route connecting the Ogden FrontRunner station with Brigham City, but we mostly are just left wondering why UTA won’t simply reactivate the FrontRunner line in Pleasant View and have the route originate from there. It seems hard to believe that this area, over the next 50 years, when combined with the added growth of Brigham City and Logan, won’t be able to support the added stop. Frankly, we would love to see FrontRunner head up to Logan, but that is a conversation for another day.
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