Utah Valley Express, the Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) service in Orem and Provo, has officially been open for one year! To celebrate, we want to look both back and forward by celebrating current success and planning for an exciting future.
As a thank you to our riders for making this first year a success, UTA will be holding a rider appreciation event at Provo and Orem stations on Thursday, September 12, 2019. Volunteers will be handing out UTA swag and treats between 2:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m. at the stations, with tables located near the UVX loading areas. Join us to celebrate the one year mark of UVX, have a delicious treat, pick up some UTA swag and enjoy a moment with UTA staff.
UVX began with a soft opening on August 13, 2018 and the first ever UVX rider boarded at 4:45 a.m. He loaded his bike on the internal bike racks in the back of the bus and settled into his brand new, never-before-used seat. Several hundred followed after him, with ridership ballooning soon after.
It hit its millionth rider in January 2019, a mere five months after the opening of the service. These million riders are made up of three major groups: UVU pass holders, BYU pass holders, and other riders. UVU and BYU students, employees, and dependents received UTA passes through their university association, and since the opening of UVX, they have definitely put them to use.
Parker Seegmiller, a senior at BYU, says, “UVX makes transportation in Utah Valley so much less frustrating. It goes everywhere I need to go and takes only a few minutes more than driving, while helping my health, my safety, my wallet and the environment. As a full-time student, UVX makes it possible for me to attend BYU while living Salt Lake County.”
As Seegmiller alluded, commuting from points north of Utah County has historically been a difficult task. UVX has dramatically changed the landscape for those that make the trek.
Average daily boardings hit a peak of just over 9,900 in February. For comparison, the bus routes that UVX replaced had an average of just over 2,100 in February 2018. And recently, we hit an average weekday ridership of over 12,000. This enormous increase of ridership demonstrates a changing atmosphere of transportation across Utah Valley, and throughout the Wasatch Front.
Jacob VanSkyHawk, a junior at Utah Valley University, sees the changes in his own life. “I think it’s really awesome that UTA can provide free transportation to the students and citizens of Provo and Orem.
“I started using it last semester to get to classes on UVU campus,” he adds. “The main reasons I used it were because it helped me save money and it passed right by my apartment. I plan on using UVX again when school starts this semester.”
The convenience, price, and ease of UVX have encouraged more people like Vanskyhawk and Seegmiller to start to incorporate public transportation into their daily lives. While students are a big part of the UVX crowd, there is a growing number of professionals that utilize the service in their commute.
Natalie Ipson, the Campus News & Media Relations Manager at BYU, said of the BRT, “UVX has been a game changer for my daily commute! I hadn’t ever been a ‘mass transit person’ before UVX but when BYU subsidized UTA passes for students, employees, and their dependents, I transformed my transportation habits — I’ve been a faithful rider since day one, commuting from Salt Lake County.”
She’s also learned what many other UVX riders have realized — that transit isn’t just for work and school. “UVX makes it possible not only to get from the train station to campus, but also to zip around to different parts of Orem and Provo for any errands, entertainment or culinary delights,” she continues. “It’s reassuring to know that the next bus is always less than 10 minutes out. Whenever I have to travel somewhere now my instinct is to look for the public transit options first.”
UVX is changing the transportation game in Utah County and likely elsewhere, as UTA is studying possible BRT projects in Ogden, Davis County, and Salt Lake Valley.
Join us on the 12th to celebrate all that has happened and will happen thanks to Utah Valley Express and your part in making it what it is today.