The Future of Rapid Transit in Denver

Transit is becoming more and more important to the people working and living in the region furthermore like several other great US cities Denver approved to transit ballot measure in recent years in Denver’s case fast tracks which has led to an explosive rate of expansion in its rail network as of late with the city having gone from zero to over 80 kilometers or 50 miles of high-quality electrified regional rail with great frequencies in less than a decade in a lot of ways Denver is a model for some aspects of what we want to see from Toronto’s go are the region’s transit services are managed by the regional transportation district or RTD for short RTD operates a bus and rail system that has a service area of over 2300 square miles or 6,000 kilometers squared the system has 180 bus routes as well as eight light rail lines and three electrified regional rail lines the rail lines have a combined total of 71 stations and 157 kilometres that being said those commuter rail lines are a place where Denver sells itself short as the lines are actually provide high-quality two-way all-day service that would be called regional rail in other cities it’s also worth noting that it’s difficult to say exactly how many light rail lines Denver actually has as the services are extensively interlined and as such it’s hard to determine the best way of counting things before we dive into the RTD rail lines let’s take a look at the Amtrak line running through the Denver area the Amtrak line the California Zephyr runs between Chicago and San Francisco stopping at Omaha Denver and Salt Lake City through the beautiful Rockies it stops at Denver Union Station which is the central station of the city where passengers can get on RTD light rail regional rail lines as well as local buses now let’s move on to the rail services currently offered by RTD Denver sees coverage from one of the largest and most heavily integrated light rail systems in the entire United States featuring relatively typical siemens vehicles and low platforms that being said the vehicles themselves are starting to show their age with internal stairs and the like Denver’s light rail network is also somewhat unique in that it has a number of single track and inter line sections which limit frequencies now on to the lines first of all we have the sea line which is our first light rail line the line has 12 stations and a connects Union Station with Littleton providing access to the sports venues of Denver such as Coors Field Pepsi Center and the Broncos Stadium as well as access to the University campus after that we have the D line which was the first line in the system when it opened in just 1994 it has 12 stations the route begins in downtown Denver at 19th Street then it joins the C line at 10th in Asajj station running the same route all the way to Littleton next up is the e line is one of the four routes that serves the southeast corridor of the system it has 21 stations and it runs from Union Station to Ridge Gate station and lonetree next we have another line that serves the southeast corridor the F line also has 21 stations and involves a very similar route to the e line although instead of starting from Union Station it shares tracks with the D line from 18th Street to i-25 and Broadway station after that we have the H line which also serves the southeast corridor it has 16 stations connecting downtown Denver to Aurora it shares tracks with the D line from 18th Street in Denver to i-25 and Broadway station then follows the South East corridor until just past South Moore station and then follows the I 225 to its south eastern terminus at Florida Station in Aurora next we have the L line which is also called the central line it opened as part of a service change in 2018 and is formed by a truncated section of the D line it has six stations starting from 38th and Blake in downtown going to 16th Street and Stout then looping back on California then we have the AR line also known as the Aurora line or the I 2 to 5 rail it has 16 stations serving Denver Aurora Greenwood Village Centennial and Lone Tree it starts from priori a station in Aurora then travels down south following I 225 to Bellevue station in Denver it then follows the i-25 to its terminus at Ridge gas station in Lone Tree and last but not least we have the W line or the west rail line it has 15 stations sharing tracks with the C Line and the e line until auroria West station then it heads west drew Lakewood ending up at Jefferson County Government

Center in golden along with the light rail lines we also have an express bus service called the Flatiron flyer there is 18 miles or 29 kilometers long serving six stops in Denver Aurora and Boulder along the u.s. route 26 there are different levels of services available including express straight to Boulder as well as all stop service the route has drawn criticism for lacking a lot of BRT features such as fully dedicated lanes and off board fare payment that being said the highway right-of-way as well as the sparse stops mean that this bus route is a lot faster than many local bus lines last we have the new regional rail lines first we have the a line or the University of Colorado a line the a line is a new electrified regional rail line that opened in 2016 there’s 23 miles or 38 kilometers long and it serves eight stations connecting downtown Denver and Denver International Airport as well as many other communities along Interstate 70 fun fact despite bearing the name the a line actually doesn’t serve the University and the title is just that of a sponsorship next we have the B Line which is another regional rail line the B Line is 6.2 miles or 10 kilometers long and it connects Denver’s Union Station with Westminster currently there are only four stations two of which in addition to the Union Station the G line has shared but this is only the first phase of the project and in the future more will be added to the line which we’ll talk about later finally we have the newly opened G line or the Gold Line which opened in early 2019 it has eight stations and eleven point two miles or 18 kilometres of track it also shares tracks with the B line until Pecos Junction station and then continues west to wheat Ridge and Arvada the G line was severely delayed and it’s opening due to issues related to crossing signals and their interaction with positive train control one of the signalling technologies used on the line which is now mandated nationally in the United States now let’s talk about the future of RTD the main development plan for transit expansion is the fast tracks expansion plan as mentioned before it consists of new commuter rail light rail and Express bus services and in particular six new rail lines with a combined length of 122 miles or 196 kilometres it includes 57 new transit stops and also are now completed renovation of Denver Union Station into a multimodal transportation hub for first in 2007 fast-tracks was originally envisioned to be completed in 27 team butt was set back by budget issues the first few projects the W line the a line to be line and the R line as well as the G line aren’t already open and the rest of the expansion is coming along with the end line likely next to open as just mentioned next we have the end line another electrified regional rail line the line goes from downtown Denver to Thornton running on an existing rail right-of-way construction is split into two phases phase one will be 13 miles or 21 kilometers long as well as seven stations after phase two it will be eighteen point five miles or 30 kilometers long with nine stations in total construction started in 2014 and the first phase is currently in testing with an opening set for early 2020 we do want to take a moment to look at Denver’s now very nice regional rail network by itself while Denver’s existing light rail network did serve the city well it primarily connected youth communities to the south and west the commuter network features faster trains and spreads the network further to the east north and northwest in the future the infrastructure would also be quite easily converted into a full Metro subway system which would be a big upgrade down the line now let’s talk about some extensions that are currently coming to existing rail lines first we have the L line extension it will connect the existing downtown rail loop to the a line extending from 30th and downing station to 38th and Blake station with two stations in between next we have the Southwest rail extension the extension will extend the C and D lines into highlands ranch adding an additional 2.5 miles or 4 kilometers of track as well as one new station at C 470 loosen and finally we have the B Line extension to Longmont the first segment of the B line to Westminster was just a first segment in the full line to long rod which will be 41 miles or 66 kilometers long passing through Adams County Westminster Broomfield Louisville folder and Longmont it will have eight stations in total providing reliable rush-hour commuter service in the area the whole route is estimated to be fully built out by 2040 in the meantime the Flatiron fire is set to fill the service gap between these communities.

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