UTA gearing up for major schedule changes, including more frequent Saturday TRAX service

Aug 16, 2023, 6:38 AM | Updated: 6:41 am

Trains at a Utah Transit Authority TRAX station in Salt Lake City on July 26, 2022. UTA is increasi...

Trains at a Utah Transit Authority TRAX station in Salt Lake City on July 26, 2022. UTA is increasing TRAX frequency from every 30 minutes to every 15 minutes on Saturdays. (Scott G Winterton, Deseret News)

(Scott G Winterton, Deseret News)

SALT LAKE CITY — The Utah Transit Authority is gearing up for some major changes to its service schedule again, doubling its Saturday light-rail service, launching its brand new Ogden Valley Express system and rearranging several bus routes across its service area.

UTA is also set to drop four more routes; however, those are set to be replaced by either new service or new service providers.

The changes are a part of UTA’s annual “change day” that takes place on Sunday. UTA spokesman Carl Arky explained that the agency adjusts its service schedule every August as schools resume operations, often leading to a bump in service. Some changes are also tied to construction and shifts in how transit is used.

The largest upcoming changes that begin Sunday include:

  • TRAX and S-Line service frequency will be increased to every 15 minutes on Saturdays, matching weekday service. UTA will continue to operate the light-rail service every 30 minutes on Sundays.
  • The Ogden Valley Express bus rapid transit system will begin service.
  • The Park City-Salt Lake City Connect route will be dropped entirely, as UTA hands it over to the growing High Valley Transit.
  • Several bus routes are set to be changed, including new routes around ongoing construction in downtown Salt Lake City.

Increasing rail frequency

The August changes were first proposed in March, garnering a little more than 150 public feedback responses. The idea to boost the Saturday light-rail service, also included in UTA’s five-year plan updated last year, seemed to garner the most support, according to a report filed by the agency.

UTA operated TRAX and S-Line trains every 15 minutes during weekdays and every 20 minutes on the weekends before the COVID-19 pandemic, which is when UTA adjusted all service to every 30 minutes in April 2020 to account for disease spread concerns and ridership drops at the time. Regular weekday service was reinstated in August of that year, but weekday service frequency hadn’t changed in three years.

That’s not all that changed since the pandemic began. UTA executive director Jay Fox told KSL.com last year that patterns in how people use transit also shifted, resulting in weekend ridership growth and growth among times that are not considered “traditional commuting peak hours.”

“I think a lot of our customers are using … our system as more of a lifestyle network now as opposed to what was traditionally a commuting network,” he said at the time.

Arky said Tuesday that UTA’s Saturday TRAX and S-Line schedule adjustments help reflect this ongoing change. It’s unclear yet if its Sunday service will be adjusted the same way in the future; however, the Red and Blue line schedules are being adjusted to allow for 15-minute service between the Courthouse and Fashion Place West stations to help cover some of the longer service gaps.

UTA is also adding some new weekday FrontRunner trips in the evenings beginning next week.

Service additions and drops

UTA is finally set to launch its Ogden Valley Express system, connecting the soon-to-be-renamed Ogden Central Station with Weber State University and McKay-Dee Hospital via downtown Ogden. This will replace bus routes 603 and 650 in the area.

The agency held a ribbon-cutting ceremony earlier this month to celebrate the completion of the project, which will operate every 10 minutes on weekdays, every 15 minutes on Saturdays and every 30 minutes on Sundays. This is no fare to ride the bus for its first three years because of a stipulation in federal grant money the project received.


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UTA gearing up for major schedule changes, including more frequent Saturday TRAX service