FrontRunner runs Sunday for Hill air show traffic

HILL AIR FORCE BASE — In the eight years it’s been shuttling people around Northern Utah, the FrontRunner has not once run on a Sunday.

But that’s about to change. 

The Utah Transit Authority’s commuter rail line will serve both days — Saturday and Sunday — of this year’s “Warriors Over the Wasatch” open house and air show at Hill Air Force Base. The show has been set for June 25 and 26. 

Kevin Ireland, development director for the Ogden-Weber Chamber of Commerce and air show coordinator for the Top of Utah Military Affairs Committee, says it’s not easy funneling that many people through the two base entry points that will be open for the show — especially if everyone drives.

“During past shows, getting in and driving here has at times been challenging,” Ireland said. “We’ve had traffic back up to the freeway and people choosing to walk three and four miles to get into the show. So this year we’re trying something different.”

Ireland said a portion of the private funds that were raised for the nearly $700,000 show be will used to pay UTA to run FrontRunner on Sunday. The train has run at past air shows, but only on Saturday.

On June 25, UTA will add several extra FrontRunner trips to its normal Saturday schedule to serve the show, and on June 26, the agency will offer three trips directly before and after the show. UTA will also provide shuttle buses that take passengers from the Clearfield rail station directly to Hill’s flightline, where the show will be held. Departure and arrival details can be found at www.rideuta.com.

Eddy Cumins, regional general manager for UTA’s Mount Ogden business district, said more than 7,000 air show visitors utilized UTA services during the 2014 show, but with more advertising and the addition of Sunday FrontRunner service, he expects that number to rise.

“We think a lot more people are going to use (public transportation),” he said. “We’re giving people a straight shot to the show and they won’t have to wait in any lines or worry about parking. People should really consider (FrontRunner).”

UTA spokesman Remi Barron said the agency had to work around weekly maintenance schedules, conflicting freight service and the high cost of operations to offer Sunday service for the air show. Though the service will be subsidized by air show organizers, Barron and Cumins both declined to comment on how much it would cost to operate the train on Sunday. 

Sunday FrontRunner service has long been a topic of debate. While riders have called for it, Barron said UTA has found that projected ridership numbers don’t justify the cost.

“It’s something that, right now, wouldn’t be cost-effective,” he said.

Air show goers can purchase a special UTA day pass for $5. Groups of up to four can purchase a $15 group pass. The passes are valid on FrontRunner and connecting buses. Riders who don’t purchase a special pass will be required to pay regular fare.

Air Show passes are being sold at rideuta.com or at UTA customer service locations. For more information on the air show, visit theutahairshow.com.