Here’s a Look at What the New Civic Center Station Does (and Doesn’t) Do for Transit Riders

The renovation should make bus movements more efficient, but transit screens won't have real-time arrival information.

Photo: David Sachs
Photo: David Sachs

If Union Station is Denver’s living room, Civic Center Station is the city’s laundry room — not nearly as pretty, but built for efficiency.

RTD gave the press a sneak peek at the newly renovated downtown bus station on Tuesday, showing off its glass-enclosed bus terminal, additional bus bays, transit screens, and a more open design that daylights the busy intersection of Colfax Avenue, Broadway, and 16th Street for people walking.

The newly unearthed vista of the State Capitol isn’t bad either, but it’s the utilitarian changes that will benefit the 15,000 bus riders who use the 18 routes at the station every day.

Transit riders should save some time thanks to a new bus ramp that connects Broadway directly to Lincoln Street without the hassle of mixing with traffic on Colfax. The new design also allows the buses to connect directly to 15th Street/Colfax via Cheyenne Street during downtown events that close streets. And a larger staging area for the Free Mall Ride should help shuttles sync up with traffic lights and get back on schedule after bunching up on 16th Street.

RTD has not made any time-savings projections, but General Manager and CEO Dave Genova won’t be surprised if there are some. “I would be hopeful that we would have some increases in on-time performance, but I think more importantly is the flexibility that this new design gives us,” Genova said.

The main concourse. Photo: David Sachs

Transit screens will display schedules around nine bus bays — four inside and five outside — which should make for a more organized boarding experience. The displays will not have arrival info in real time, however, even though RTD buses are outfitted with the tech that sends that info to smartphones. This is a major omission of an amenity that can improve the transit experience and grow ridership.

The agency is  “working on real-time” but “a final date has not been established,” spokesperson Lisa Trujillo said in an email.

The station is also missing bike parking, for now. RTD says it will install bike lockers and racks on the south side of the station next year. Builders had planned to install a bike cage, but a grant that would’ve funded it fell through.

Civic Center Station bookends the 16th Street Mall, with Union Station on the other end. They’re both built for function, but unlike Union Station, Civic Center Station is decidedly not a gathering place. The bus concourse is nearly devoid of places to sit.

“There is some sparseness to it,” said Richard Rost, RTD’s manager of facilities engineering. “It’s a transit station. People come and go.”

That might change when a 20,000 square-foot parcel on the south side of the station gets developed. Whether it will become a park, garden, or commercial space is yet to be seen.

Here’s a more detailed look at the station from this morning’s walk-through:

The outdoor bus bays along Colfax Avenue. Photo: David Sachs
Photo: David Sachs
The turn-around area for the 16th Street Mall shuttles. Photo: David Sachs
Photo: David Sachs
The view from the plaza above the bus terminal. Benches are coming in January. Photo: David Sachs