Denver RTD Transit System

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MNdible
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Denver RTD Transit System

Postby MNdible » October 24th, 2014, 5:25 pm

This probably goes better in a transit catch-all category, which we don't really have. So, mods move if you have a better home.

There was sort of a throw-away comment in a streets.mn post comparing us to Denver which was something to the effect of, "aside from mountains, pot, and LRT, what does Denver have that we don't?"

The last time I used Denver's LRT (which has been a while, I'll admit), I really didn't think it was that great. And looking at the pure statistics, it would seem that although Denver has a lot more mileage, our ridership is blowing Denver out of the water (especially true with the Green Line). So what do people think -- should we be jealous of Denver's LRT system?

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Re: Public Transit News and Happenings

Postby mplsjaromir » October 24th, 2014, 6:14 pm

Absolutely not. The Denver system should not be emulated. Sure, if you only look at total track length it seems to be pretty good. Clearly using freeway ROW generates lower ridership.

One of saddest sights i saw out there was the construction of light rail track through terrain so desolate that it makes the SWLRT route look like Manila. It's cool that they're building a line to the boondoggle airport, it would be nice if they offered more than an hourly shuttle in the mean time.

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Re: Public Transit News and Happenings

Postby woofner » October 25th, 2014, 8:59 am

I've never been to Denver, but it seems like the West line would be a lot more useful than their previous lines. That said, I've known a lot of people who've lived both in Denver and the Twin Cities who thought that their system was better (pre-Green Line).

As for the East Line, that seems to basically exist to be an airport parking shuttle, so it probably doesn't need to start running until the park and rides are done.
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Re: Public Transit News and Happenings

Postby Snelbian » October 25th, 2014, 12:32 pm

woofner wrote:I've never been to Denver, but it seems like the West line would be a lot more useful than their previous lines. That said, I've known a lot of people who've lived both in Denver and the Twin Cities who thought that their system was better (pre-Green Line).

As for the East Line, that seems to basically exist to be an airport parking shuttle, so it probably doesn't need to start running until the park and rides are done.
"Pre-Green Line" is a pretty big qualifier, there, since it's basically saying they thought Denver was better prior to our number of LRT lines doubling. ;)

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woofner
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Re: Public Transit News and Happenings

Postby woofner » October 25th, 2014, 1:40 pm

Obviously. But most of them lived in Denver before their West line opened too.
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Re: Public Transit News and Happenings

Postby EOst » October 25th, 2014, 1:58 pm

The W Line in Denver isn't that great either. It isn't down an Interstate, no, but it's just an old rail corridor instead; the station areas are mostly low-density residential, two to three blocks south of the main dense corridor in the area. It does connect some decent attractions together, but the tail is pretty suburban.

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Re: Public Transit News and Happenings

Postby Silophant » October 25th, 2014, 4:05 pm

So we are going to emulate them then.

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Re: Public Transit News and Happenings

Postby EOst » October 25th, 2014, 4:16 pm

To be honest, I'm much more impressed with the SWLRT's route than the West line's. As inaccessible and weird as some of the SW stations are, they're at least in the vicinity of major job centers. A lot of the West line isn't even that. This is a pretty critical review, but it gives you some of the picture: http://www.denverpost.com/writersonther ... light-rail

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Re: Public Transit News and Happenings

Postby nlt » October 28th, 2014, 9:20 am

MNdible wrote: So what do people think -- should we be jealous of Denver's LRT system?
As a former Denver resident, I have to comment on RTD- they have awful vehicles, the clunky, high-floored SD160s, and the system mostly hugs the freeways (even the West line, though that does go within a couple of blocks of west Colfax) so isn't really that useful. They have some nice New Flyer buses, though, and two downtown shuttle systems.

I'd argue the DIA is far from being a boondoggle and is far superior to MSP, but the EMU commuter rail to get there is going to be very expensive to use- >$10 one-way, if I remember correctly.

Anyway, good to see that Metro Transit is finally going to be making some signage improvements. That'll be a big help. The article mentions having stops with real-time arrival information, too, so maybe someday our grandkids won't have to always PLEASE CHECK SCHEDULES.

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Re: Public Transit News and Happenings

Postby nate » October 28th, 2014, 11:05 am

It seems to me that San Diego's LRT system is a better analogue to our own Green and Blue Line extensions, not Denver's system.

I think it's their Green Line that runs through Mission Valley and connects SDSU at one end to downtown at the other. It's mostly all grade separated and hits lots of suburban nodes, but does not run alongside freeways for much of its length. The stations were not especially walkable, but seemed to hit some decently dense areas, and had some good TOD near stations.

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Re: Public Transit News and Happenings

Postby grant1simons2 » October 28th, 2014, 11:31 am

San Diego has the oldest LRT system in America since they began running in 1978 so I'd hope they have a good system by now

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Re: Public Transit News and Happenings

Postby Tcmetro » October 30th, 2014, 8:00 am

A couple days late, but I guess I'll pile on the Denver transit hate ;)

I've only visited Denver once, but using transit there, the glaring problem was that the rail services poorly connected the inner city together, they were primarily used as suburban commuting lines.

South Line: I didn't ride this one, but it seems to hug a highway and operate in lower density indistrial and SFH neighborhoods. It also serves Englewood and Littleton, which appear to be of the inner suburban variety with gridded streets and the like.

Southeast Line: This one also operates along a highway, but serves the "Denver Tech Center", an extremely car-orientated edge city, not unlike Normandale Lake or Tyson's Corner or the ones north of Atlanta. It also serves University of Denver which appeared to be a popular stop.

225 Line: Currently a pretty much useless line, an extension through Aurora and up to the East Line is underway. That being said, the line will not serve the big medical complex on Colfax, and will instead operate around it. I'm not too sure how popular a suburb-to-suburb LRT line will be, but there aren't many paradigms in the US.

West Line: Operates a few blocks south of Colfax, probably a 5-10 min walk from all the main intersections. Ridership is probably impacted by the fact that the line only operates on the Union Station branch in downtown, which isn't too close to all the big office towers.

Downing St Line: Denver's first line, not sure how well used it is. Apparently, a planning process is going on to convert the line to a low-floor streetcar (as opposed to the high-floor LRT) service and disconnect it from the lines south of downtown.

East Line: Will operate to the Airport, and replace some of the express buses that serve park and rides on the way. Otherwise, it seems to operate in industrial areas and won't attract too much walk up ridership. It does kinda serve Denver's premier new urbanist community, Stapleton.

North Line: Nothing special about this one, it seems to just serve the sprawl.

Gold Line: Perhaps a better name than the WNW Line, it doesn't serve too much except the suburb of Arvada.

Northwest Line: The proposed line to Boulder, only a short stub will be built anytime soon.

US 36 BRT: The Boulder Line in the meantime, will open soon. It's a highway BRT, with express buses using median toll lanes, and station-to-station buses using bus shoulders and slip ramps, with pedestrian bridges connecting the two sides of the highway.

Northeast Line: A long ways to go planning-wise, probably the least promising of any transit service in Denver.

One of the main problems is that the lines poorly interact in the core itself. The East, North, Gold, and Northwest lines are all EMU services that terminate at Union Station forcing a transfer to a bus to access the main office areas. The South and Southeast lines do provide direct service to downtown, but they fail to connect to the Union Station lines. The West line and branches of the SE and S lines also serve Union Station, but they run into the same problem, not serving the main part of the core.

The other issue is that Denver has completely ignored the inner city neighborhoods in favor of fast, cheap rail connections to the suburbs. The main streets of Colfax, Broadway, Federal, Colorado, etc are seeing marginal, if any improvements. E Colfax might get a BRT service, with a peak-only bus lane. Cherry Creek, which is kinda like the "Uptown" of Denver (someone correct me if I'm wrong) isn't planned to see any improvements.

As for the rail situation, a lot of it is already moving quite fast, and there isn't really any good way to change the lines to service the inner city. Hopefully a downtown LRT loop connecting the Union Station branch to the Stout/California branch (perhaps along 19th?) could improve the operation of the LRT lines and provide a better connection for the commuter rail lines.

--

In any case, it seems to me that the Twin Cities are doing a much better job than Denver, despite having fewer rail lines. Hiawatha and Central are high performers, Rush Line and Riverview will be pretty decent as well, Southwest, Bottineau, and Gateway are more Denver-esque, but will probably perform decently as well. We also have a much better bus system than Denver, and our SIP and Arterial BRT plans are much more aggressive at bus expansion than Denver's plans.

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Re: Public Transit News and Happenings

Postby twincitizen » October 30th, 2014, 9:10 am

In short, it seems like our lack of funding has allowed for longer and more thoughtful planning processes (though our lack of funding also constrains us to using rail corridors instead of urban/tunnel routes for SW and Bottineau), while Denver's robust funding may have been "too much, too soon" and they just rapidly built out a less useful system.

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Re: Denver RTD Transit System

Postby mullen » October 30th, 2014, 10:58 am

why hate on a city that actually gets it when it comes to transit funding. not this piecemail, lurching from project to project like we do here. their union station project makes the st paul union station look like a dinky nothing.

http://www.citylab.com/commute/2014/06/ ... st/373222/

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Re: Denver RTD Transit System

Postby mattaudio » October 30th, 2014, 11:00 am

mullen wrote:why hate on a city that actually gets it when it comes to transit funding.
What good is all the money in the world if they spend it on bad projects?

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Re: Denver RTD Transit System

Postby Nathan » October 30th, 2014, 11:16 am

Cities around the world maybe?

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Re: Denver RTD Transit System

Postby Drizzay » October 30th, 2014, 3:32 pm

The West Line is in such a wasted route. There literally is no reason to get off on any of the stops between the Auraria West Campus stop and Oak Station, unless you want to walk to Casa Bonita. :D

They should have tried to run it down Alameda and catch the Belmar area before going out to the Jeffco Govt center.

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Re: Denver RTD Transit System

Postby nlt » October 30th, 2014, 7:20 pm

Drizzay wrote:The West Line is in such a wasted route. There literally is no reason to get off on any of the stops between the Auraria West Campus stop and Oak Station, unless you want to walk to Casa Bonita. :D

They should have tried to run it down Alameda and catch the Belmar area before going out to the Jeffco Govt center.
Except for, um, the Federal Center, the largest concentration of federal agencies outside of DC? And Red Rocks Community College? And the former St Anthony hospital complex, which is being redeveloped? I'm as critical of RTD as anybody but I think the West line was one of their better choices. Certainly better than the I-225 line.
Tcmetro wrote:One of the main problems is that the lines poorly interact in the core itself. The East, North, Gold, and Northwest lines are all EMU services that terminate at Union Station forcing a transfer to a bus to access the main office areas. The South and Southeast lines do provide direct service to downtown, but they fail to connect to the Union Station lines. The West line and branches of the SE and S lines also serve Union Station, but they run into the same problem, not serving the main part of the core.
The 16th st. mall shuttle is great for circulation through downtown: it's fast, it's extremely frequent (like, one to two minute headways at rush hour) and it's easy to use- just step on. To relieve the 16th shuttle, there's another now running on 18th/19th called Free Metro Ride. Both of these services are far superior to the clusterfuck of free buses noise-ing up Nicollet.

RTD still uses those terrible high-floored light rail vehicles, though, and they still don't have a system like our Go-to cards, which is pretty appalling at this point (though they have been trying to get one going for about a year).

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Re: Denver RTD Transit System

Postby Drizzay » October 31st, 2014, 1:39 pm

nlt wrote: Except for, um, the Federal Center, the largest concentration of federal agencies outside of DC? And Red Rocks Community College? And the former St Anthony hospital complex, which is being redeveloped? I'm as critical of RTD as anybody but I think the West line was one of their better choices. Certainly better than the I-225 line.
They are all West of the Oak St station, which was my point. It is basically all residential between Mile High and the Oak St stop...7 stations worth.

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Re: Denver RTD Transit System

Postby TroyGBiv » November 17th, 2014, 2:51 am

The smartest thing that Denver did was put a complete plan together and make solid recommendations for each route.... Then they worked with all of the metro counties to get buy-in to fund the entire system without significant interruption... turning transit planning and LRT into a constantly growing living part of the Denver landscape. I have lived here all my life except when I lived north of Denver. They never had the kind of money that the Twin Cities have and continues to have... but they knew best practices was a thorough planning process. We are fighting multiple lawsuits over a train over a creek that already has trains running over it... when the same additional spending would have run the SWLRT through Uptown, Lyn-Lake and up Nicollet creating much higher ridership potential... I support our LRT system but have been really disappointed by a couple of these major hiccups...


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