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Emily Ashcraft, Deseret News
BYU mascot Cosmo, BYU President Kevin J Worthen and Utah Valley Express general manager Mary DeLaMare-Schaefer celebrate the completion of the UVX bus line at a luncheon in Provo on Thursday, Jan. 24, 2019.

PROVO — Since hitting the road in August, the new Utah Valley Express bus line, or UVX, has drastically increased the number of people using public transportation in Utah County. The bus route was completed last month.

"Last year before UVX started, in the whole of Utah County. we had 2.4 million boardings. UVX from August to this week hit one million boardings, just on UVX. And that has also spurred ridership on the other buses in Utah County. People are starting to get the vision of transit being able to work for them," said Mary DeLaMare-Schaefer, UTA regional general manager.

She said the bus line was a community project that required a lot of help from different organizations. On Thursday, Utah County elected officials and community members who helped with the UVX bus line came together to ride the bus from the Orem Station to the Provo Library and celebrate its completion.

Emily Ashcraft, Deseret News
Orem Mayor Richard Brunst boards the Utah Valley Express during a celebration on Thursday, Jan. 24, 2019, marking the completion of the bus line. The bus took the passengers from the Orem Station to the Provo City Library at Academy Square.

"What we've learned is that if it's free and if it's frequent, everybody uses it," said Orem Mayor Richard Brunst.

Brunst helped secure a grant that allows everyone to ride the bus line for free for the next three years. He said this $200 million project has drastically increased ridership with about 9,000 to 10,000 people riding the UVX line each day.

"This has been a huge effort on the part of many, many people, and this is a great day because … this is something that will help the residents after us, students after us, and for our community for many years to come," Brunst said.

Although the bus line is for everyone in Utah Valley, many of the riders are students from Brigham Young University and Utah Valley University. Carlton Christensen, who represents Salt Lake County on the UTA board of trustees, said 46 percent of the ridership is from Utah Valley University, 38 percent is from BYU and 15 percent comes from the rest of the community.

BYU President Kevin J Worthen said with this new line and the ability to ride the FrontRunner, BYU can sincerely tell parents that students don't need a car to attend.

"UVX really provides a critical link and something that's been missing from our campus for some time," Worthen said.

The UVX line is also designed to help with parking at BYU and UVU. According to UVU President Astrid S. Tuminez, the university used to have just 200 or 300 extra parking spots each day — now there are more than 1,000.

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"It is about now, and it is about the future, and we are a part of this great story of livability and sustainability, and wonderfulness for us and for the generations that will come after us," Tuminez said.

Provo Mayor Michelle Kaufusi also talked about the importance of looking toward the future.

"Thank you to everyone who's been patient with the construction, it has not been easy. We appreciate the sacrifices so many of you have made and we're thrilled to see the great station and busses now in operation," Kaufusi said.