Monday’s Headlines

  • Friday Night, A Driver Struck and Killed a Woman Crossing Colfax in Lakewood, Fled (Denver7)
  • Early This Morning, a Driver in a Box Truck Struck and Killed a Man Who Ran Onto I-25 in Larkspur (DenPo)
  • WalkDenver, an Advocacy Group, is Asking City to Redesign High Speed Thoroughfares, Like 13th, to Increase the Safety for Pedestrians, Bikers, and Residents After Car Drove Into a Yard for the Fifth Time (CBS4)
  • An Old Globeville Farm, That was Most Recently Used as a Spot to Dump and Burn Cars, Gets New Life as Urban Park (Denverite)
  • Urban Planner Compares Different Cities’ Public Transit, Saying Denver Hasn’t Put the Resources Where the Demand is (Vox)
  • Eldora Ski Mountain Will Start Charging for Parking (on Weekends and Holidays) if There are Two or Less Passengers in a Car, Urging Visitors to Take the Ski Bus from Boulder or Carpool (Denver7)
  • C-470 Expansion Project Wrapping up by This Summer (Highands Ranch Herald)
  • A Snazzy Little Breakdown of the Rules of E-Scootering in Denver (9News)
  • Check Out This Woman’s Detailed Account of Her Bike Ride on Vail Pass (Boulder Weekly)

National headlines at Streetsblog USA

  • MT
    • TakeFive

      This is a traditional textbook view of transit; I significantly disagree but it’s true that East Colfax is the busiest bus corridor (not counting the 16th street mall). BRT will best serve that corridor if ever they finally get around to it.

      RTD’s light and commuter rail provide access to the greatest density of jobs: downtown, DIA, Fitzsimons and the DTC. There is also good access to three medical centers and two university campuses (3 counting Red Rocks).

      Nothing has prevented (City of) Denver from providing light rail to So Broadway, or Speer/Leetsdale. RTD built what taxpayers wanted and were willing to pay for. It’s impact and benefits will only grow more important over time.

      • MT

        Taxpayers were never given the option to decide if light rail would go down Broadway or Speer vs the highway and rail corridors that it ended up on. Rail was built where it was easiest to build, not where it was most needed or wanted.
        We voted to expand light rail, or to not expand light rail, we didn’t get options on where exactly it would run.

        Yes, the rail lines serve downtown, but they barely serve any other neighborhoods of Denver. They are primarily suburban commuter lines.

        I don’t disagree that development can follow the rail we’ve built, but why wait decades for that when we could build transit where the people and jobs are right now? If the economy tanks that development may never come. Plus the highway/freight rail corridors significantly limit the amount of development that can go near rail stations.

        The money we’re spending on rail could have been much better spent, on routes that already have high demand.

        • Camera_Shy

          I don’t disagree with TakeFive above, but I wholeheartedly agree with MT here.

          • TakeFive

            I do regret that Denver didn’t lobby for light rail along So Broadway to the I-25 station plus along the Speer-Leetsdale corridor.

            Still w/o FasTracks and the A Line there would be no DUS neighborhood as you see today. There would have been an above ground bus terminal, maybe some low rise apartments. Denver entered the 1990’s with see-through (vacant) buildings. It wasn’t until 1995 when Coors Field opened that downtown started to perk up. It was the Convention Center expansion and FasTracks that lit a fire under downtown. From today’s context everything looks different but it wasn’t until about 2010 that downtown really took off.

          • Camera_Shy

            Sadly, as I recall it, when they were tearing up Lincoln street to redo it in recent times, they found the old tramway tracks and had to tear them out to refurbish the street. What goes around, comes around, I guess.

          • MT

            The A line is great for getting to the airport, and maybe is fine in the corridor it runs in for getting between downtown and the airport quickly. It’s ridiculous that it wasn’t build sooner.

            All the other lines that followed the path of least resistance instead of the path of dense development and high ridership missed a huge opportunity.

          • TakeFive

            RTD currently has 5 light rail corridors open. There’s lots of ridership growth ahead; still light rail already has half the ridership of RTD’s 142 bus routes according to APTA: https://www.apta.com/resources/statistics/Documents/Ridership/2018-Q1-Ridership-APTA.pdf

            The dense development you keep referring to didn’t happen until after the Great Recession although seeds were starting to sprout in about 2004/5. Fastracks had already been planned well before that and was approved in 2004. It’s always fun to play Monday Morning Quarterback though.

          • MT

            Every neighborhood in Denver has always been denser than the surrounding suburbs. The mix of housing in Cap Hill is still denser than anything else.

            It’s fine if these lines go out to some suburbs, but taking the route along the highway where there is nothing along the way, instead of along already developed corridors where there are and always have been tons of businesses and homes misses out on tens of thousands of potential riders.

            We can serve the suburbs but skipping past the urban neighborhoods to do it is a mistake. Now we have to try to build new urban neighborhoods around the rail while the existing ones get ignored.

          • TakeFive

            The W Line goes through urban/Denver neighborhoods before it goes along a ‘highway’ through the suburbs. The only suburb that gets ‘neighborhood’ treatment is the short R Line which also connects to two other corridors. The I-225 corridor is tied with the SW corridor for best ridership.

            You should have been there to lobby for $10 billion as opposed to the $5 billion voters approved. In fact, you can still be a key cog in additional metro-wide funding initiative that Mayor Hancock wants to pursue.

          • MT

            W would have made a lot more sense on Colfax instead of through the park. Again, path of least resistance instead of path of most destinations and riders.

          • TakeFive

            I wouldn’t disagree about W Colfax but in this case the path of least resistance goes to politics. JeffCo mostly Lakewood and Golden wanted a line that accessed the Federal Center and the Taj Mahal. Federal Center Station is a good ‘regional’ hub for those who live in the foothills or south of there.

            Without funding nothing gets built or goes anywhere. See Nashville as a perfect example. Transit nerd from NYC helped to design one of your fantasy systems; only problem, the voters in one county, Davidson County where Nashville is, sent the proposal to the dumpster in an embarrassing and lopsided loss for transit lovers.

          • MT

            This is exactly my point. RTD is always having to try to please suburban constituents and they end up spending a lot of money trying to get to suburban places instead of focusing resources where they are actually most needed.
            If the burbs want transit service they need to build places that can actually support transit. It’s ridiculous to waste money on low density places while urban neighborhoods that would flock to good transit are ignored.

          • TakeFive

            So voter/taxpayers are important? You’d prefer nothing instead? Even Jarrett Walks says “Don’t the perfect be the enemy of the good.”

          • MT

            Sure, but don’t let a board dominated by suburban reps be the enemy of good urban transit.

          • MT

            So we have to wait and hope the economy stays strong so that we can develop enough near our rail lines so they have riders.
            When, as you just pointed out, already existing bus routes have demand now and get a lot of riders despite poor service. Those routes that have already proven themselves should be getting upgrades, instead of build it and hope people come.

          • TakeFive

            You have a strange demand definition when 5 light rail corridors already do half the business of 142 bus routes. In many case the only thing that “existing bus routes” have proven is they don’t have much ridership (outside of peak periods) and have been losing riders.

          • MT

            And one super slow bus route has higher ridership than any rail line. Any one of those rail lines could easily be the busiest transit line in the city if it followed an actual urban street instead of highways and freight lines.
            It’s a huge missed opportunity.
            Maybe some day development will follow, but we blew a lot of money that could have been spent better.
            What we can hope for now is a lot of BRT lines on those major corridors so service can finally go where the people are instead of hoping for the other way around.

          • TakeFive

            When did you acquire the affection for beating dead horses. There’s no do-overs; water under the bridge my friend.

            Five or six (additional) corridors have been identified for investment. So Broadway (to the I-25 Station), Speer Blvd/Leetsdale and Colorado Blvd should all be light rail. E Colfax (already in progress) along with W Colfax, Federal and Havana should be enhanced bus routes. Federal is now under study for BRT.

            Additionally RTD is currently doing a study to identify additional potential BRT-style corridors.

          • MT

            Those should have been light rail, yes. Highly unlikely they will be building any more rail now though.
            Let’s hope BRT can actually get done in all of those places, and sometime in my lifetime.

          • TakeFive

            Minneapolis just broke ground on their METRO SW LRT (green line) extension. The 14.5 mile route will cost ~$140 million per mile. That’s about 40% of the cost in Seattle. Seattle will spend ~$25 billion on their own light rail. Two lines of 7 and 8 miles will add 3 and 4 stations respectively.

            Over the summer I estimated So Broadway plus Speer/Leetsdale at a $140 million per mile and Colorado Blvd at $125 million; the difference being some grade separation versus no grade separation. The ~15 miles of new light rail could be done for about $2.5 billion. All that’s needed is the next metro-wide RTD/transportation initiative to pass. I suggest $15.5 billion which compares to already approved funding of ~$50 billion for Phoenix and Seattle.

        • TakeFive

          RTD serves all or parts of 7 counties. RTD planning for light rail goes back decades. I saw a mockup in the early 1980’s where light rail originally was to go on the east side of I-25 through the DTC.

          RTD presented to voters a specific plan to build light rail. Voters approved. The genius of the FasTracks is that it was built for ~$70 million per mile or ~$5.8 billion. Seattle is currently building their suburb to city light rail and spending 5X that much per mile.

          Denver didn’t have any natural corridors for light rail other than maybe East Colfax. At that time nobody cared about E Colfax including Denver voters.

          City of Denver taxpayer/voters are free to build light rail wherever they wish.

          • MT

            The fact that RTD has to attempt to serve so many low density places is the biggest problem our transit system faces. Resources are stretched thin across a lot of places whose development pattern can’t support transit.

            Cost per mile sounds great, but mileage is not a great measure of how useful the system is. We could have built a system with half the mileage, but focused it in actual urban areas where it would serve many more people.

            Just because plans for rail to follow the highway have been around for a while doesn’t mean that’s the best place for it to go.

            Denver has plenty of natural corridors for rail, the whole city is shaped around streetcar lines. You can see every street where they used to run is a little wider than the ones around it. You can see all the little neighborhood retail centers that grew up around streetcar stops.

            No one has presented the voters of Denver with an option to build transit that serves them. Until someone steps up with some leadership, we’re stuck with what RTD can manage.

          • TakeFive

            I won’t convince you with your tunnel vision and that’s OK but a few points.

            RTD currently has 5 light rail corridors open. There’s lots of ridership growth ahead; still light rail already has half the ridership of RTD’s 142 bus lines according to APTA: https://www.apta.com/resources/statistics/Documents/Ridership/2018-Q1-Ridership-APTA.pdf

            Suburban express bus routes during peak periods run full. Flatiron Flier was so successful they ordered more buses.

            Due to multi-years of falling bus ridership the new national trend due to budget constraints and reality is to reallocate funds from low performing routes to High Priority corridors. Those agencies that have invested in enhanced bus/BRT-style route have had great success.

            The residents in six counties aren’t suffering sleepless nights worrying about Denver’s urban needs. Denver is its own county, is a Big Boy and can fend for themselves.

          • MT

            That would be great, right now the taxpayers of Denver are subsidizing the suburban commuters.

            Commuting routes during rush hour may be full, but there’s a reason the 15 is the highest ridership. Dense walkable neighborhoods where people ride at all times of the day instead of driving. Not suburban commuters who only ride to save money on parking at work.

            BRT is great, but it again will work best where there are people. Downtown Boulder to Downtown Denver works well. Even rail running along a place like I-225 does not work well. (Because 225 is not a place and has no people, only cars)

          • TakeFive

            You sure like to make stuff up; you should run for President.

            RTD collects a six-tenths percent sales tax that funds their (bus) operations. The City of Denver has always been the major beneficiary of RTD services. The suburbs are subsidizing the city.

            The reason BRT is promoted as being ‘sexy’ is that it’s supposed to be ‘rail-like’ bus service. That means infrequent stops. For example, Seattle’s version has done well with their six suburb-to-city RapidRide routes with two being especially busy.

          • MT

            Denver pays the most and service to suburbs costs the most. Money would do a lot more good in urban neighborhoods. I’d love to see the burbs try to fund their own transit on their own tax base. Denver could do it. Burbs would need much higher taxes to cover it, and the service would still be lousy.

            The stops on BRT can be as frequent or infrequent as we want them to be. Colfax will likely have fairly frequent stops by BRT standards. It’s going to replace the local route and it needs to stop often. Still will go a lot faster with dedicated lanes and priority signals.

          • TakeFive

            “Denver pays the most”? lol, I can assure you that all six counties pay way more than Denver County does. Understand that a lot of routes may start out in a different county but they end up going through various Denver neighborhoods.

            Pretend I’m Mr. DougCo. “Okay RTD, we do appreciate our access to light rail and have agreed to the 4-tenths percent FasTracks tax. Here’s what we’ll do. Except for Parker Rd which we’ll contract service for you can keep your dang Big Bertha buses out of DougCo; we’ll opt out of the 6-tenths percent tax and do our own transit service.” If you don’t think that DougCo would be the big winner in this transaction then your’re very naive.

            With respect to E Colfax BRT, afaik they haven’t decided whether they replace both routes or just the express route leaving the local service intact. Signal priority while good is not nearly as impactful as many assume.

          • MT

            Colfax BRT will replace both local and limited routes. Stops will likely be somewhere in between the local and limited spacing. There will be a lot of debate to come about where exactly each stop will be. Around 1/2 mile between stops on average looks likely.

            And there’s no way Douglas county could provide any kind of decent service on it’s own. It’s land use is so sprawling it could never afford to cover all that area with the tax base it has. Trying to provide service to places like that is why RTD is stretched so thin.

            Yes, routes starting in the burbs go through Denver neighborhoods. The rail lines following highways provide very little service to Denver neighborhoods. Which was the original point. A lot of money was spent and a lot opportunities were missed, a lot of ridership was skipped right by.

          • TakeFive

            I’ll assume DougCo is perfectly capable of deciding what is best for themselves. I’ll assume Highlands Ranch (for example) would utilize Micro-Transit. Lone Tree is delighted with their own micro-transit which they fund themselves. Get those Big Bertha buses outta here.

      • Devin Quince

        Not all. We are still getting fleeced up North with no train being delivered.

        • TakeFive

          I recently answered a question about this still being a possibility. My response was that since the BNSF owned rails that RTD wanted to use is still an obstacle that if Boulder County would take responsibility for acquiring the needed ROW then with the next metro-wide funding initiative RTD could build out the route. Or FasTracks may yet generate enough funding over time that with the ROW in place it could still be done.