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FrontRunner leg closure among changes coming to UTA service

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FILE - A FrontRunner train leaves Lehi Station on Tuesday, Dec. 19, 2017.

FILE - A FrontRunner train leaves Lehi Station on Tuesday, Dec. 19, 2017.

Spenser Heaps, Deseret News

OGDEN — Meeting new federal safety mandates for trains will impact northern Utah after the Utah Transit Authority determined one leg of FrontRunner is too sparsely used to justify spending the money to meet the standards.

As part of that determination, UTA will suspend its FrontRunner service between Ogden and Pleasant View in mid-August, transportation officials announced Thursday.

Other changes will affect rail and bus lines in northern Utah beginning April 8, transportation officials announced.

Adding the federally mandated Positive Train Control to the Ogden to Pleasant View route would be an "expansive and expensive" undertaking because the Union Pacific Railroad owns the tracks.

"There isn't enough ridership at this time to justify the expenditure of the funds," said UTA spokesman Carl Arky.

The cost of continuing the route would be around $1.5 million, according to transportation officials.

Schedules will change for most bus and rail lines as UTA implements the safety upgrades. New schedules will be available on UTA’s website on April 8, the day the changes begin.

Utah Transit Authority is also asking those who use the FrontRunner service between Ogden and Pleasant View for their opinion about other transportation options.

Before the transit authority officially made its announcement, a UTA staff member rode the route during the morning and evening commute and counted a total of 19 people on the train in both rides combined, according to Arky.

"We spoke to people, we went up to everybody on the train to tell them about the change, to get their opinion, to see if they were aware that this was happening, how they felt about this, what alternatives we could offer that might work for them," Arky said.

Most people understood the situation, he said.

UTA hopes to eventually work with community leaders to build a new TRAX route between Ogden and Pleasant View.

"That will make it a lot more possible for UTA to look at starting that service up again," the UTA spokesman said.

In the meantime, the transit authority will offer an alternative form of transportation between the two cities, possibly buses or vans, as soon as the FrontRunner service is suspended.

UTA invites community members from Pleasant View, North Ogden and northern Weber County to share their opinion during two public hearings on the issue next week.

The first hearing will take place on Monday from 6-8 p.m. at the Pleasant View Municipal Building, 420 West Elberta Drive. The second will be Wednesday from 6-8 p.m. at the North Ogden City Council Chambers, 505 E. 2600 North.

UTA encourages those with questions about the changes to contact them on Twitter, Facebook or by phone at 801-RIDE-UTA.