Monday, July 18, 2011

UTA to ditch Pleasant View FrontRunner connection?

The Standard-Examiner has a bit of bad news concerning FrontRunner service to the Top of Utah: "UTA may cut FrontRunner runs, increase bus service in Pleasant View."

The Pleasant View line always has been the bastard child of the FR line, as the story notes:
The station was supposed to open along with the rest of the line in April 2008, but UTA couldn't maintain right of way in the area and had to share the stretch of track with Union Pacific.

Improvements that needed to be made to the shared stretch of track were delayed when railroad workers were diverted to repair tracks damaged by a landslide in Oregon.

The Pleasant View leg of FrontRunner was finally completed Sept. 29, 2008, nearly six months after the rest of the line.

I remember, as an S-E editor when FR opened for business, UTA's spokeswoman at the time told me the transit authority was having trouble with Union Pacific. The idea always was to share track with the freight hauler, but apparently UTA was under the impression it would be actual "sharing," as opposed to a diminished take-it-or-leave-it proposition that resulted in two morning trains between Ogden and Pleasant View, and two evening trains.

Indeed, the spokeswoman told me in an initial interview that UTA was so frustrated with its negotiations it planned to lay its own track between Ogden and Pleasant View. I called back a day later, if memory serves, and she took back the part about UTA having its own track -- which would have doubtless been a budget-buster.

While all that is ancient history, it likely did have plenty to do with FR's failure to attract ridership in Pleasant View. As Pleasant View Mayor Doug Clifford told the S-E:
"It's kind of the chicken and the egg question," Clifford said. "Is ridership low because we just don't have the demand for it, or is it low because the service is limited and there (are) only a few trips?"

Good question, Mr. Mayor. Now the area's commuters will have to make due with expanded bus routes, according to the news story. Long term, that doesn't help FrontRunner's potential vis-a-vis riders north of Ogden in the years to come. The few people who were in the habit of riding -- a dismal 25 each day, UTA says -- will now take the bus (probably to the Ogden station?), and in years ahead, if FR is ever extended to Brigham City, which is the plan, it'll be that much more behind the curve.

That actually brings up another couple of questions: What is the timetable for such service? Have Box Elder residents approved that sales tax hike to pay for FR there? (I don't remember, but I don't think they have; it may not have been on the ballot to date.)

It would be interesting to hear from someone who rode FR to and from Pleasant View.

No comments:

Post a Comment