Ogden’s new rapid transit service to offer free fares for 3 years

The Ogden Express will officially open in late August.

(Rick Egan | The Salt Lake Tribune) UTA's new Ogden Express, a bus rapid transit system, includes 11 electric buses.

A new Ogden rapid transit system will offer free service to Utah residents starting next month.

The Utah Transit Authority’s Ogden Express — or OGX — is an express bus system that connects the Ogden FrontRunner station to the Weber State University campus and McKay-Dee Hospital.

Its electric buses will travel along dedicated bus lanes in the center of the Harrison Road between 32nd Street and the Dee Events Center.

The rapid transit system differs from regular bus service with its similarities to light rail — like increased capacity and speed — while also offering a lower cost, according to the authority. The rapid transit system’s traffic signal priority and dedicated bus lanes also help riders get to their destinations quicker.

(Utah Transit Authority) UTA's new Ogden Express will operate between the Ogden FrontRunner station and McKay-Dee Hospital.

OGX will open to the public on Aug. 20, offering service every 10-15 minutes on weekdays and every 15-30 minutes on weekends. Utah residents will be able to ride the service for free until July 2026, according to the agency.

A $1.2 million grant will fund the route’s operating costs over the next three years.

”Because UTA is receiving funding for this service, UTA will be able to forego the collection fares from customers riding the OGX service during this time period,” UTA manager of fare strategy Kensey Kunkel said in a board meeting Wednesday.

The authority and its partners have worked to develop the new system for about 20 years, although construction started in spring 2021. The completed project includes 11 electric buses, electric charging stations for those buses, 13 bus stations, road widening and campus bus lanes — amounting to over $120 million.

The project initially started out as a gondola, according to the authority, then became a street car and finally a bus rapid transit line. Funding was only made available in the past few years to conduct studies and an environmental impact assessment — and the Federal Transit Administration covered about 65% of the total project costs through about $78.3 million in grant funding.

A grand opening ceremony for the new rapid transit system is slated for Aug. 2. A soft service launch is planned for Aug. 19 in partnership with the Ogden Farmer’s Market before full service starts the next day.