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Andrew Adams and Jed Boal Reporting The future is nearly here for the next ride in mass transit on the Wasatch Front. Today, UTA showed off its sleek new FrontRunner at full speed.
Six months from now passengers will board FrontRunner commuter cars at stations from Pleasant View to Salt Lake City, and get where they're going in a whole new way. "This is going to be my main transportation," commuter Bart Kinsey said.
Kinsey was among the guests today for a 15-mile test ride from Woods Cross to Kaysville and back. He lives in Harrisville, north of Ogden, and works in Layton. Right now, he rides UTA paratransit because of his wheelchair. "I didn't think there'd be enough room, but there is," Kinsey observed.
FrontRunner should cut his commute time in half.
UTA expects 6,000 riders a day when service starts in April, mostly people tired of traffic on the interstate. "We now provide an option for those people who use transit. It's safe, efficient, and you can maintain a schedule," explained Steve Meyer, FrontRunner project manager.
FrontRunner's top speed is 79 miles per hour, and there are six stops between Pleasant View and Salt Lake City. Total commute time: about an hour.
With a Wi-Fi connection, Rep. Neil Hansen of Ogden plans to plug in when he rides south for legislative sessions. "It will be nice to be able to do work on the way to work," he said. "I think a lot of people would rather ride this than take their car."
So, what's left? "We need to finish construction. We need to get all of the equipment here for the stations, and we need to test everything to make sure that, on day one, it works the way we designed it," explained Paul O'Brien, general manager of rail operations for UTA.
As for Bart Kinsey, he's ready to ride as soon as FrontRunner pulls into his station.
UTA already has a designer on board for expansion of commuter rail into Utah County. They're making a lot of progress going south.