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OGDEN — All aboard the Ogden Express!
Utah Transit Authority, Ogden City and Weber State University leaders gathered together Wednesday to reveal that Ogden Express, or OGX, will be the official name of the rapid bus transit system that will connect UTA's Ogden FrontRunner station and the Weber State University campus. Up until now, it had been referred to as the Ogden/WSU BRT project.
"I could not be more excited about this ... this will be a generational project," said Ogden Mayor Mike Caldwell. "Once this opens, I can't wait to ride it."
Beth Holbrook, a member of the UTA Board of Trustees, said the new name is the result of a collective effort between leaders with UTA, Ogden, Weber State and various other organizations, including local business and tourism agencies. She explained that they decided on a name that identifies the community served by the transit system and what the service would be like.
UTA officials announced in April — when they broke ground on the $120 million project — that it is expected to be completed by 2023. The first three years of service will be free as a result of grants from the Federal Transit Administration that cover most of the project's costs. Cindy Terwilliger, an FTA regional administrator, said $78.3 million in federal grants were provided toward the project.
Holbrook said Wednesday that the Ogden Express will feature 11 all-electric buses that will travel between 22 stations in Ogden once the project is complete. Three of the busses will be used to replace the Weber State Shuttle in August 2022, she added.
Weber State University President Brad Mortensen said he is impressed with the progress made since the ground was broken in April. Looking at his surroundings, including the Wasatch Mountains neighboring the Ogden campus, he said he's grateful for the decision made in the past to place the university where it is and that's something he expects future students and residents will feel about the rapid bus system.
"I'm very confident that generations from now, folks will look back at this investment at our campus and our community with that same positive light — to recognize what a great symbol this is," he said. "We know it will be a great asset to all of the community members who want to take advantage of the cultural and recreational opportunities that are here."
Meanwhile, Holbrook said the Ogden Express "sets the stage" for UTA's future transit systems. It's the agency's second rapid bus transit system after UVX in Utah County that is already in service; however, UTA also has several similar rapid transit systems planned in the future. Those projects are Point of the Mountain (Sandy to Lehi), Central Corridor (Lehi to Provo), Davis-Salt Lake City Community Connector (South Davis County to Salt Lake City) and Midvale Connector (Murray to West Valley City), according to Holbrook.
"These projects are really designed to be collectively connected and that's the goal we have moving forward," she said. "Not only are we setting the standards for our BRT naming conventions but we're also setting some of the branding standards for our designs."
The Ogden Express, Holbrook continued, will have a similar brand design as the UVX, and future projects will be branded similarly as the UVX and the Ogden Express. Terwilliger added that the FTA is working with UTA leaders in helping finance those future projects.