Wednesday and Thursday: Demand True Bus Rapid Transit on Colfax Avenue

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Photo: Adam Lederer/Flickr

We know that Denver is in desperate need of a transit revolution. We also know that bus rapid transit, or BRT, on East Colfax can help spark it.

What we don’t know is whether Denver Public Works and city transportation planners will have the guts to implement true BRT or if they’ll settle for a meeker version (see: the Flatiron Flyer).

True BRT would arrive every few minutes in a lane solely dedicated to buses, separate from general traffic. True BRT would be center-aligned, get priority at intersections, separate fare payment from the boarding process, and have platform-level boarding — these are the most important features according to the Institute for Transportation and Development Policy.

True BRT would dramatically improve transit for people who already ride the bus along Colfax, which has more than 22,000 boardings per weekday, according to the city. Colfax is a key east-west route along one of Denver’s most dangerous places to walk; A good BRT project should include new pedestrian safety infrastructure. Oh, and BRT done well can attract more jobs. Add it all up, and you get much faster and more reliable service that makes life better for current riders and lures more people to opt for transit instead of driving.

There’s no guarantee that any or all of these things will happen. But on Wednesday in Denver and Thursday in Aurora, you can tell decision makers that they’re necessary. That’s when transportation officials will share the results of an 18-month analysis of BRT along the East Colfax corridor (the study’s scope includes parallel streets from 13th to 18th).

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The study’s geographic limits. Image: City and County of Denver

Why is it so important for people who support better transit to turn out for these two meetings?

Street parking or travel lanes might get repurposed for BRT. That’ll probably rub some people the wrong way, which is why planners need to hear from people who get good transportation planning — a point that Denver Transportation Director Crissy Fanganello reiterated last week at a neighborhood meeting. There’s a lot at stake. Here’s the meeting info:

Denver
Wednesday, January 20
5:30 – 7:30 p.m. (presentation at 6)
Knights of Columbus Hall
1555 Grant Street

Aurora
Thursday, January 21
5:30 – 7:30 p.m.(presentation at 6)
North Middle School
12095 Montview Blvd.

  • rorojo

    Psst… (Wednesday and Thursday)

    • David Sachs

      Thanks.

  • dave

    The preferred alternative as it currently stands-

    “Following a focused, year-long technical analysis of all three
    alternatives, BRT on Colfax Avenue was identified as teh preliminary
    Locally Preferred Alternative (LPA). The BRT system would convert Colfax
    Avenue’s outside travel lane in both directions to exclusive transit
    lanes during the weekday morning and evening peak travel periods (i.e.,
    rush hour) for as much of the corridor as is possible. The inside travel
    lanes would remain available for all vehicles to use. The rest of the
    day and on weekends, buses would continue to operate in the outside
    travel lane with traffic.”

    At the last colfax corridor meeting I asked why not make BRT full-time dedicated lanes rather than rush hour only. The answer I got was that they wanted to minimize “disruption.” I can’t imagine how these “flex” lanes could have adequate separation from traffic congestion to realize the full mobility benefits of BRT.

    Also at the last meeting someone asked why the BRT couldn’t be aligned in the median which would minimize interference with parking cars and right turns. The answer was that a median alignment would not have as strong an economic benefit for the business on colfax. I am fairly certain this assumption was not based on any data. In fact I don’t think this option was ever even considered.

    I’m afraid this watered-down BRT is a foregone conclusion. Transit does not have the same advocacy force as bicycles do in Denver, but hopefully we can push for a bolder vision.

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