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UTA approves extending some free-fare offerings in Layton and Ogden

The Utah Transit Authority extended contracts Wednesday with Ogden and Layton that allow it to dabble with free fares on a few bus routes — something the agency is experimenting with more often as a way to increase ridership.

Free fare on the year-old Utah Valley Express bus rapid transit system — allowed by a three-year federal grant — has helped that line increase ridership by eight-fold, and it now attracts as many riders as the TRAX Green Line, and more on some days. Transit officials have noticed.

The UTA Board on Wednesday extended contracts with Ogden and Layton where payments from the cities allow free fare on buses that look like trolleys that loop through their business districts from nearby FrontRunner commuter train stops.