Better Bus Stops and Faster Trips Coming to RTD’s 15 and 15L East Colfax Lines

A rendering of what a future bus shelter at Colfax and Broadway will look like. Image: RTD.
A rendering of what a future bus shelter at Colfax and Broadway will look like. Image: RTD.

Over the next year, better bus stops and faster trips will come to transit riders who use the 15 and 15L East Colfax lines.

The Regional Transportation District will upgrade bus stops, add bus shelters and install safety upgrades at 37 bus stops on East Colfax between Broadway in Denver and I-225 in Aurora, the agency announced today at a press conference. Changes to the street will boost pedestrian safety and accelerate bus trips, too.

RTD’s East Colfax lines serve 22,000 riders per day, making it the highest-ridership corridor in the system, aside from the FreeMall Ride. The changes come to a route that hasn’t been revamped in decades.

RTD General Manager and CEO Dave Genova at a press conference held at the Carla Madison Recreation Center. Photo: Andy Bosselman
RTD General Manager and CEO Dave Genova at a press conference held at the Carla Madison Recreation Center. Photo: Andy Bosselman

“The 15L East Colfax Route Improvements Project is the first significant investment made to the 15L route in 30 years,” RTD General Manager Dave Genova said in a statement.

Construction will start next month and will continue until next spring.

The changes will include:

  • Bus shelters at 18 stops, including benches, improved lighting and security cameras
  • Bus stop upgrades at 19 stops
  • Passenger information screens at six stops
  • Five new traffic signals, each timed to speed up buses
  • New bypass lanes to allow buses move ahead of traffic
  • 11 new bulb-out curb extensions to enhance pedestrian safety
A rendering of a bus bulb-out.
A rendering of a bus bulb-out.

Officials designed the upgrades to complement Colfax Bus Rapid Transit, a larger project that has been planned but not yet fully funded.

Any improvements to the bus stop environment in Denver are welcome, but this project improves just 37 stops on one corridor. There are thousands of bus stops across a city where bus shelters are rare — and the few that exist are often dirty and poorly maintained.

The addition of six electronic passenger information screens is also good news. But it’s just a pilot project, highlighting RTD’s extraordinary lag in providing real-time arrival information at stops. 

As RTD embraces new tech partnerships with Uber, Lyft and driverless shuttle companies, which aren’t useful to most passengers, adding six passenger information screens is an important step. But this essential service, which has been around for two decades in many other cities, is an essential amenity that can help to boost ridership by answering what everyone waiting for a bus wants to know: How long do I have to wait? 

To complete the Colfax improvement project, RTD partnered with the Colorado Department of Transportation, the City and County of Denver, the City of Aurora, the Federal Transit Administration and the Denver Regional Council of Governments.

The project will make improvements to all 19 15L bus stops between Broadway in Denver and I-225 in Aurora. An additional 18 stops will receive upgrades along the 15 local.
The project will make improvements to all 15L bus stops on the nine-mile stretch between Broadway in Denver and I-225 in Aurora. Along the 15 local route, an additional 18 stops will receive upgrades.
  • LazyReader

    Denver had plenty of time, years to do that. Instead they spent billions on light rail construction. Bus service always get scrapped when light rail begins and taxes always go up. In 1990, before Denver built its first light-rail line, the decennial census found that 4.74% of the region’s commuters took transit to work. By 2014, the region had four light-rail lines, and the American Community Survey found that the percentage of commuters taking transit to work was all the way up to 4.76%

    Yes, that’s a measurable 0.02 percent increase in transit’s share of commuting. Costs of rail went from 4.7 to 7.6 billion dollars. In 2004, when the region’s voters agreed to raise sales taxes to pay for six new rail lines, they were promised that part of the money would
    also be used to improve bus service. Instead, rail cost overruns forced a 19 percent decline in vehicle miles of bus service. Light rail is just a more expensive way of moving Denverites around where as electric or hybrid buses could have done more to ease congestion and improve air quality.

    • mckillio

      What about non commuter use? How many more lane miles were added in that period?

      • LazyReader

        What about it, it would not have been necessary if RTD build responsive transit instead of monolithic rail systems.

        • TakeFive

          Please stop with the propaganda talking points. Sheesh, if only the right and left would hew more to reality maybe some intelligence could happen.

          Literally $billions have been invested in transit oriented development near rail stations and many, many more $billions are in planning along other stations. This happens because a developer knows that light or commuter rail will still be there next to his development 50 years from now. It’s why European investors jumped at the opportunity to pay All Cash for projects at Denver Union Station.

          • LazyReader

            Development that could have happened ‘Anywhere’ else if not for lucrative tax loopholes and TIF’s. For developments aimed predominantly at upper income people. Alot of whom probably own cars………..Ironically when they build transit oriented development there’s a lot of fancy garages. https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/86786d4c7366979306b7349140b0de06e6bdb1d7969a50586074ca52197c7c35.jpg

          • TakeFive

            What tax loopholes are you talking about? This did not benefit developers; you’ve got the story wrong. TIF is how the loans for the $450 million transit center are being paid back and presumably the rest of the road infrastructure. You forgot about the ‘affordable’ housing component.

            In the beginning nobody could have predicted the phenomenal success that has occurred. Credit goes to the Great Millennial Migration to urban centers and a good (local) economy.

        • mckillio

          That’s an important metric too and important for telling the whole story. The amount of lane miles, making driving easier, is very important too, as well as the cost of driving in general during that period. You’re only showing part of a very complex story.

          • LazyReader

            Cities could alleviate it’s traffic problems. Not eliminate it. Traffic is just a consequence of people all wanting to be in the same location.
            – charging single occupancy driver congestion fees in it’s most congested roads particularly during Rush Hour and use the money to repair their crumbling roads and bridges and tunnels
            – Improve traffic signal coordination to move more vehicles per hour.
            – Deregulate the transit industry and allow people to use their cars to move people outside the scope of taxis
            – Convert or build HOV/HOT lanes.
            – offer tax incentives for residents who use high capacity vehicles to shuttle people.
            – Let private engineering firms build their own tunnels and toll lanes and charge people the right to use them.
            – Encourage urban cycling, 1,000 cyclers means 1,000 fewer cars.
            – Let private engineering firms build tunnels to bypass traffic.

          • TakeFive

            That may be a good conservative’s wet dream but it’s (mostly) fanciful and a futile. All of the transportation network is subsidized including roads ie paid for by taxpayers.

            Convert or build HOV/HOT lanes

            Denver has already done this. HOV lanes allowed for federal funding and combined with Express tolls have helped to fund projects like U.S. 36, the current I-25 Gap project and northern I-25 lane expansion as well. Express tolls will also help to maintain these roads – unless they’re part of a P3 like the Central 70 project where the private partner will shoulder the responsibility.

          • ayyummsho

            Brilliant!

    • TakeFive

      Instead, rail cost overruns forced a 19 percent decline in vehicle miles of bus service.

      Was all this forcing an organized feat of Jon Caldera or was this a force majeure? Your shtick is right out of Randall O’Toole’s playbook. Who gives a rip about vehicle miles of bus service? Yes, RTD built better transit bones – that was the intention.

      You gloss over the fact that commuters like to ride light rail, but buses not so much. Bus service is as bad as the potholes and traffic congestion are. There’s many reasons but the numbers prove the fact that rail transit is holding its own or growing while bus ridership has cratered from sea to shining sea. This fact does not support your playbook that buses are better than light rail. BTW, Any chance you’re on the payroll of the Cato Institute?

    • Michael Lubeck

      But light rail service is most definitely needed in any modern city since like 1985.

  • Wranger

    This is good news for so many people who ride the 15 and 15L. Additional bus shelters and real time bus information are definitely needed all over the metro region but at least taking care of Colfax is a great start since it serves so many people and has the potential to serve many more. Each time I wait in the snow and rain at Colfax and Lincoln, across from the beautiful new Civic Center bus station, I’ve wondered why they didn’t put shelters at the bus stops along the road. Thanks, RTD.

    • TakeFive

      Yes, this is certainly an improvement but don’t overdo the Kool-Aid. The Colfax Corridor Connections project is now a multi-decade effort so it’s ’bout time we saw some improvements.

      These modern-day ‘shelters’ are made to be nearly indestructible. They’re ‘open and airy’ for security reasons. I do like the inclusion of some real time info boards. While ‘shelter’ is more of a traditional term, they do provide a nice sense of place.

      RTD may be taking the lead but given the players that were present at the presser it would seem that funding was a shared effort among CDOT, an FTA grant, Elevate Denver bond money as well as RTD.

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