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  #11341  
Old Posted May 12, 2018, 9:10 PM
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Here's what I wanted to avoid ranting about but I just can't help myself in this moment: the reason I stopped using RTD. I already know much of what I'm about to say is very much not politically correct, but I don't give a crap because it's the damn truth.

I stopped riding the bus because RTD is nasty. It's just nasty. When I lived in SF there were far more riffraff, and the riffraff were much more in-your-face and aggressive. However, the use of public transportation wasn't actually that unpleasant because the riffraff to normal person ratio was actually pretty good. Same thing every time I visit NYC. But the riffraff to normal person ratio on the buses of Denver is just awful. Due to this, my commute has been uncomfortable (to say the least) the whole time I've been at my new job in Commerce City. Sometimes the smell alone is too much to take. And it seems to have gotten worse recently (especially compared to what I remember from years past).

On the same week I had two experiences on the way to work that were enough to make me swear off RTD forever. The first: I didn't look before I sat and I sat in something disgusting that some riffraff left behind. I had to get off at the next stop, speed-walk home, shower and change, and take a Lyft to work. It was so disgusting I still get the eeby-jeebies every time I think about it. I threw those jeans away.

The second: a few days later this homeless guy sits right next to me. For some reason he was cradling an old hardhat filled with bloody tissues. Not only was his smell so horrific it was making me gag, but I was afraid he or one of his bloody tissues was going to touch me, so I had to move to the front of the bus (which is where the riffraff more typically are) and sure enough, a few stops later, these two rough individuals get on with an excuse about why they only have a fraction of the fare. The bus driver lets them on with the ole apathetic rebuke: "Well I'm not giving you a transfer." One was dragging a heavy five-gallon bucket for some reason. As I realized they were preparing to sit on either side of me, I stood up and got off the bus. That was it for me. No more RTD.

There are many, many more such stories from my adventures on RTD over the past (mere) five or six months. I once almost got cornered into a fist fight trying to convince this extremely drunk guy (I think he was also on drugs) to stop sexually harassing, and gawking at, this poor, frightened girl who couldn't have been any older than 13 (but luckily a fellow rider backed me up). Speaking of fist fights, I once witnessed one that broke out over whether or not a rider's rapping was bad (for some reason he was rapping really loudly and rhyming the n-word with the n-word at the end of every verse). Speaking of the n-word, I once had to endure sitting two seats down from this big ol' crazy redneck that was shouting it over and over and making the whole bus uncomfortable. (The bus driver did nothing. I would have kicked him off and/or summoned the RTD cops.)

I've seen it all - and in such a short period of time. But no more. RTD is nasty. I'm done.

Edit: Come to think of it, it's really just the buses that are bad. The trains really aren't that bad at all. I wonder why that is? :/

Last edited by Sam Hill; May 12, 2018 at 9:34 PM.
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  #11342  
Old Posted May 13, 2018, 12:21 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sam Hill View Post
Here's what I wanted to avoid ranting about but I just can't help myself in this moment: the reason I stopped using RTD. I already know much of what I'm about to say is very much not politically correct, but I don't give a crap because it's the damn truth.

I stopped riding the bus because RTD is nasty. It's just nasty. When I lived in SF there were far more riffraff, and the riffraff were much more in-your-face and aggressive. However, the use of public transportation wasn't actually that unpleasant because the riffraff to normal person ratio was actually pretty good. Same thing every time I visit NYC. But the riffraff to normal person ratio on the buses of Denver is just awful. Due to this, my commute has been uncomfortable (to say the least) the whole time I've been at my new job in Commerce City. Sometimes the smell alone is too much to take. And it seems to have gotten worse recently (especially compared to what I remember from years past).

On the same week I had two experiences on the way to work that were enough to make me swear off RTD forever. The first: I didn't look before I sat and I sat in something disgusting that some riffraff left behind. I had to get off at the next stop, speed-walk home, shower and change, and take a Lyft to work. It was so disgusting I still get the eeby-jeebies every time I think about it. I threw those jeans away.

The second: a few days later this homeless guy sits right next to me. For some reason he was cradling an old hardhat filled with bloody tissues. Not only was his smell so horrific it was making me gag, but I was afraid he or one of his bloody tissues was going to touch me, so I had to move to the front of the bus (which is where the riffraff more typically are) and sure enough, a few stops later, these two rough individuals get on with an excuse about why they only have a fraction of the fare. The bus driver lets them on with the ole apathetic rebuke: "Well I'm not giving you a transfer." One was dragging a heavy five-gallon bucket for some reason. As I realized they were preparing to sit on either side of me, I stood up and got off the bus. That was it for me. No more RTD.

There are many, many more such stories from my adventures on RTD over the past (mere) five or six months. I once almost got cornered into a fist fight trying to convince this extremely drunk guy (I think he was also on drugs) to stop sexually harassing, and gawking at, this poor, frightened girl who couldn't have been any older than 13 (but luckily a fellow rider backed me up). Speaking of fist fights, I once witnessed one that broke out over whether or not a rider's rapping was bad (for some reason he was rapping really loudly and rhyming the n-word with the n-word at the end of every verse). Speaking of the n-word, I once had to endure sitting two seats down from this big ol' crazy redneck that was shouting it over and over and making the whole bus uncomfortable. (The bus driver did nothing. I would have kicked him off and/or summoned the RTD cops.)

I've seen it all - and in such a short period of time. But no more. RTD is nasty. I'm done.

Edit: Come to think of it, it's really just the buses that are bad. The trains really aren't that bad at all. I wonder why that is? :/
This is a typical Thursday for me.
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  #11343  
Old Posted May 13, 2018, 1:47 AM
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Originally Posted by Sam Hill View Post
I stopped riding the bus because RTD is nasty. It's just nasty. When I lived in SF there were far more riffraff, and the riffraff were much more in-your-face and aggressive. However, the use of public transportation wasn't actually that unpleasant because the riffraff to normal person ratio was actually pretty good. Same thing every time I visit NYC. But the riffraff to normal person ratio on the buses of Denver is just awful.

Edit: Come to think of it, it's really just the buses that are bad. The trains really aren't that bad at all. I wonder why that is? :/
There's a lot to unpack and discuss in there, and I would say you are not wrong. I'll single out these two specific points though: I think for the "riffraff to normal person ratio," just see your previous post about frequency and you'll have your answer as to why there aren't more "normal people." I also think the same thing goes for your edit - RTD's trains run along routes that are much more useful to people, have higher frequency, and are often time-competitive with automobile travel. Hence why more "normal people" use them.

In Boulder, they're beginning to have a discussion about the 30-min frequency routes and whether they could be better served by a "micro-transit" service. This would mean something more like Lyft-line, but operated by a public transit agency. Via (formerly "Special Transit"), which operates Boulder's HOP bus, already has a fleet of vehicles that would be ideal for such a service, and the idea is that payment would honor RTD's EcoPasses and their fare structure (much like the HOP already does). This would suggest that you aren't wrong that mobility-on-demand services can in fact be superior to fixed-route transit in many cases. They key is what kind of route you're talking about - is it a trunk route with high frequency, like a commuter train, the 15, the mall shuttle, or Boulder's SKIP (which still make a lot of sense); or is it a meandering route with 30-min or less frequency (which may be much better served by a public "micro-transit" system)?
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  #11344  
Old Posted May 13, 2018, 7:01 PM
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How 'bout those Washington Capitals?
Nice move bringing in Michal Kempny from the Blackhawks. Penguins are so yesterday.

Sam Hill Have you checked into the new Lyft Pass?
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  #11345  
Old Posted May 14, 2018, 5:50 AM
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I'm curious how ride-sharing compares to public transit and personal automobile use ecologically. Is it increasing traffic, pollution, and fossil-fule-use?
I don't have the stats in front of me right now, but ride-hailing is generally increasing congestion, pollution, and fuel-use, but decreasing demand for off-street parking.

This is a fairly predictable result. For every one passenger-carrying trip, a ride-hailing car actually takes two trips: The passenger-carrying trip plus the trip to get to the passenger pick-up point.
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  #11346  
Old Posted May 14, 2018, 6:25 AM
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I don't have the stats in front of me right now, but ride-hailing is generally increasing congestion, pollution, and fuel-use, but decreasing demand for off-street parking.

This is a fairly predictable result. For every one passenger-carrying trip, a ride-hailing car actually takes two trips: The passenger-carrying trip plus the trip to get to the passenger pick-up point.
However... the analysis I've seen is for basic Uber/Lyft ride-hailing service which makes total sense; but with ride-sharing as opposed to ride-hailing a driver should take a few cars off the road. I don't recall any analysis for that.

EDIT: Not unusual I make a post and then go do additional research... but that's also how I learn.
It appears most are using ride-hailing and ride-sharing interchangeably. One (clearly biased) site made the argument that van-pooling/ride sharing presumably appealed to (former) bus riders and therefor was still adding to congestion. I buy the logic but the lack of analysis as to how true that is, is problematic.

Certainly in a place like Denver where bus ridership is not a robust part of commuting the option of van-pooling can be a 1st step for leaving the car at home. In this case it's more of a positive than a negative. The next step of van-pooling to the nearest light rail stop is ultimately the best solution for potentially lots of commuters.
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Last edited by TakeFive; May 14, 2018 at 7:10 AM.
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  #11347  
Old Posted May 14, 2018, 1:27 PM
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I did actually mean ride-hailing. I keep calling it ride-sharing by mistake. A lot of people do. I also use car-sharing (car2go) for trips to ikea and whatnot.
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  #11348  
Old Posted May 14, 2018, 2:45 PM
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Originally Posted by mr1138 View Post
There's a lot to unpack and discuss in there, and I would say you are not wrong. I'll single out these two specific points though: I think for the "riffraff to normal person ratio," just see your previous post about frequency and you'll have your answer as to why there aren't more "normal people." I also think the same thing goes for your edit - RTD's trains run along routes that are much more useful to people, have higher frequency, and are often time-competitive with automobile travel. Hence why more "normal people" use them.

In Boulder, they're beginning to have a discussion about the 30-min frequency routes and whether they could be better served by a "micro-transit" service. This would mean something more like Lyft-line, but operated by a public transit agency. Via (formerly "Special Transit"), which operates Boulder's HOP bus, already has a fleet of vehicles that would be ideal for such a service, and the idea is that payment would honor RTD's EcoPasses and their fare structure (much like the HOP already does). This would suggest that you aren't wrong that mobility-on-demand services can in fact be superior to fixed-route transit in many cases. They key is what kind of route you're talking about - is it a trunk route with high frequency, like a commuter train, the 15, the mall shuttle, or Boulder's SKIP (which still make a lot of sense); or is it a meandering route with 30-min or less frequency (which may be much better served by a public "micro-transit" system)?
I love that it took the advent of the smartphone for Americans to start doing public transportation the way the rest of the world has always been doing it.

How is a Lyft Line any different from a minibus/combi? A nicer vehicle? And because a wasted white girl feels safer because it’s user-friendly and the tech somehow makes it safer?

How is a Lyft any different from an informal rickshaw? Both are largely unregulated taxi alternatives. I guess it’s just the nicer vehicle again. And the app that makes it so neither passenger nor driver have to have any clue where they are or where they are going. (Of course, ubiquitous phone maps work on a rickshaw too.)
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  #11349  
Old Posted May 14, 2018, 2:45 PM
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Yes, ride-sharing is different. No, we should not consider ride-sharing and ride-hailing to be the same thing.

Vanpools and other microtransit are fine. But so far they've remained a very small niche product, as opposed to the rapid expansion of mostly single-passenger ride-hailing. Maybe some day one of the ride-hailing companies will come up with a business model that actually does produce a lot of microtransit trips. But so far attempts to bridge the cap between ride-hailing and buses have mostly failed miserably.

If you want to read more about microtransit from a transit perspective, instead of a tech-bro PR perspective, Jarrett Walker is doing a lot of good writing on the subject.
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  #11350  
Old Posted May 14, 2018, 3:00 PM
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How is a Lyft any different from an informal rickshaw? Both are largely unregulated taxi alternatives.
Forget apps. Forget nicer cars. The key disruptive element to ride-hailing is the "unregulated" part.

Ride-hailing, unlike traditional taxis, can actually supply as much service as the market demands. In most US cities, taxis have been unnaturally limited by virtue of a restricted supply on medallions/licenses. That kept their numbers well below what the market could support. And by extension, it severely limited taxi's utility to riders: You could only hail them easily if you're downtown; beyond that you'd have to wait a long time for one to be dispatched to you.

Ride-hailing, on the other hand, can flood any city with as many cars as it can find drivers for. That completely changes the dispatch formula, making it possible for cars to be dispatched all over the city with minimal waiting.
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  #11351  
Old Posted May 14, 2018, 4:40 PM
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If you want to read more about microtransit from a transit perspective, instead of a tech-bro PR perspective, Jarrett Walker is doing a lot of good writing on the subject.
Solid stuff as far as it goes; it does stay within basic boxes; who knows maybe tech-bros have something to add by thinking outside of the box.

Lyft and Uber Can Save Transit — if Transit Gets on Board
March 22, 2018 by Daniel Sperling, Ph.D and Steven Polzin, Ph.D.
Quote:
Bad news for transit keeps rolling in... While ridership routinely fluctuates... new technologies and business models suggest a more pronounced challenge for public transportation.
Gosh, can transit even survive?
Quote:
Yes — but an entirely fresh approach is needed. Ridesharing services like Uber and Lyft have the potential to be a boon to transit, but only if we reimagine transit as mobility.
They go on to cover much of the same ground as Jarrett Walker but in a less confined or constrained way. It's a good and easy read.
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  #11352  
Old Posted May 14, 2018, 5:27 PM
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To a degree it goes back to the same ole, same ole... that RTD is wasting a lot of time and money since Denver isn't ideally dense. We could wait for another 50 years for Denver to redevelop all its neighborhoods into high density gems and then another 50 years for the suburbs to follow along. Or maybe, just maybe...

The more operative question is why do people choose NOT to ride transit in Denver?
And it always comes down to convenience and security. Convenience breaks out into access and time mostly. Many prefer to not spend twice the time riding a bus as driving. Security goes to comfort and personal perception and includes personal preferences. Women, generally, feel much more vulnerable.

In Denver (metro) only 7% commute by transit. Is this the best we should expect? With respect to downtown it's reported that 40% use transit based on a voluntary survey which may or may not be overstated.

While coverage is not unimportant it can limit RTD's ability to invest in a more a competitive product/routes which would produce much better ridership numbers.

Walker ably argues that big lumbering buses with a handful of riders are still better than microtransit but he can't speak to (differences in) individual cities and agencies or how the blending of the public and private sector could be mutually beneficial. With respect to a city like Denver and agency like RTD he doesn't go into the limiting impact of budgets or potential benefits of less wear & tear/depreciation or the lost opportunity (cost) of better serving high ridership trunk lines.
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  #11353  
Old Posted May 14, 2018, 5:50 PM
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Are Uber and Lyft helping or hurting public transit?
May 8, 2018 By Patrick Sisson/Curbed Transportation
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As ridehailing services such as Uber and Lyft continue to grow, their impact on transportation policy, congestion, and the environment have been the subject of much curiosity and research. Can the ease of ridehaiing convince car owners to abandon their vehicles and rely on new mobility options, or will it lead to more car trips and increased congestion?
Yes, the Streetsblog crowd automatically paints a very dim view.
Quote:
A new report issued this morning suggests that ridehailing is becoming more intertwined with mass transit. Commissioned by Masabi, a mobile ticketing service that works with transit systems as well as companies such as Uber and Lyft, the new research surveyed 1,000 adults in the United States last fall with access to mass transit.
Isn't RTD now using Masabi tech?
This is interesting:
Quote:
More than one-third of respondents (35 percent) said they are combining ridesharing with public transit on an occasional basis, while 7 percent are combing transit and ridehailing on a weekly basis. In addition, while 80 percent of weekly drivers said they never use public transit, 95.5 percent of weekly rideshare riders utilize public transit.
They also reference a study out U of CA-Davis that found that Uber/Lyft add to the overall miles driven.
Quote:
The Masabi report found more evidence of multimodal trips—combining transit and Uber or Lyft—and that 9.2 percent of riders were using rideshare instead of public transit.
And they even speak to my pet peeve.
Quote:
This report paints a picture of the future of public transit and how it can both learn from and operate in partnership with new mobility options, to the benefit of all,” Brian Zanghi, CEO of Masabi, said in a statement. “By implementing the types of convenience features found in ridesharing and other transportation alternatives and integrating multiple transit modes to deliver full first-last mile mobility.
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  #11354  
Old Posted May 14, 2018, 6:57 PM
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While coverage is not unimportant it can limit RTD's ability to invest in a more a competitive product/routes which would produce much better ridership numbers.
This is the primary issue with RTD. Its mission is to provide transportation coverage over a large geographic area with the logical result being multiple routes that have meandering paths with low frequency and lousy ridership. Doing otherwise invites the wrath of local municipalities that would feel cheated if there service was reduced from a trunk line to a ride-sharing option performance be damned. The regional nature of RTD is killing the local routes.

Could RTD's mission be changed to provide transit access where multiple routes would be cut while others, mostly in Denver, would be greatly expanded? Is the political will there? Probably not.
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  #11355  
Old Posted May 15, 2018, 5:30 PM
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There are a lot of little things that RTD doesn't get right that could reasonably be fixed and add up to a much better experience.

For example when riding from Union Station to Anschutz:
-There is an occasional stop at about Dahlia that I don't understand but think is related to the crossing issues
-There is an eleven minute delay between transferring from A-line to Peoria during peak hours
-Even after this delay the street lights are not timed to the train so we get going and then have to sit for a couple minutes to wait for the lights to change, like a bus.
-The Fitzsimmons stop is nowhere near anything. Can either walk 15 minutes to campus or take another shuttle to the campus. I understand that this isn't RTD's fault as CU wouldn't allow trains to pass nearby but still a bit ironic considering they sponsor the line. Regardless this is another annoyance that falls to the passenger.

I am fortunate in that I live a 5 minute walk from Union Station. Including the walk it takes 20 minutes to get to Peoria station but then another 25 to get to the heart of campus, which in theory is one stop away. This could easily be shaved down by 10 minutes with some time and effort.

Another example is the darn Mile High station. Why in the heck is this being utilized when there are no events going on? There is literally another stop serving the Auraria campus several hundred feet away. Common sense just does not seem to pervade.

They are two years removed from the "opening date" of the Gold Line and we still dont have a functional line.

As much as I wan't good public transportation to succeed in Denver, these things are very frustrating and I can understand why many folks in the general public don't want to give them more funding for crap that is inefficient.
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  #11356  
Old Posted May 15, 2018, 6:49 PM
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How ya doin' downtown?


Screenshot via Denverite per DPW

Prepare for Denver’s wet, hot summer of paving
May 14, 2018 by Andrew Kenney/Denverite
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City work crews are preparing for a summer paving program that will take them across 85 blocks. It starts this week on Champa Street and 17th Street, covering most of the downtown area.
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  #11357  
Old Posted May 15, 2018, 8:26 PM
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This is the primary issue with RTD. Its mission is to provide transportation coverage over a large geographic area with the logical result being multiple routes that have meandering paths with low frequency and lousy ridership. Doing otherwise invites the wrath of local municipalities that would feel cheated if there service was reduced from a trunk line to a ride-sharing option performance be damned. The regional nature of RTD is killing the local routes.

Could RTD's mission be changed to provide transit access where multiple routes would be cut while others, mostly in Denver, would be greatly expanded? Is the political will there? Probably not.
There's an old saying: You can let it happen through evolution, or you can accomplish it much faster by REVOLUTION.


Source

RTD seems to have gotten a jump on better efficiency already with their recent changes. Operating expenses while growing are never-the-less becoming more of a constraining issue.

Ultimately RTD will need funding for capital investments with more of a focus on central Denver. The overriding logic is that RTD spent $billions on suburban light rail and the priority needs to shift to the central city. It will be a bit tricky to appeal to RTD voters metro-wide but I can handle it.

Towards a better transit future I'm already starting to envision the next-gen version of D-MET Transport. In addition to the Urban Signature Line there will be a nifty new 7.5-mile north-south light rail line plus a sexy new 2.5-mile east-west light rail line.

In addition to East Colfax, the corridors that will be targeted for BRT status are obvious: Federal, West Colfax and Havana. It's hard to project but I'll guess that in 2020 $'s the above package for both BRT and light rail will cost about $3.5 billion.
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  #11358  
Old Posted May 15, 2018, 10:15 PM
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Meandering Moments

I was thinking about current transit darling Seattle in comparison to Denver. For starters, in addition to Amazon, Seattle has a geographic and a (growing) density pattern that Denver can't match. More importantly voters have approved boatloads of money that are surely beyond Denver's means.

But Denver has its own advantages. They already have nearly 100 miles of rail transit while Seattle will spend about 5X more per mile with their own rail expansion. That's some serious coin. Additionally downtown Denver has a primary hub in Union Station and a bookend hub with a renovated Civic Center Station. Broadway Station has its own importance.

Thinking Outside the Box
RTD/Denver should acquire a small fleet of 35-foot zero-emission buses to use as circulators in neighborhoods like RiNo, Highlands, Cap Hill, Wash Park, Cherry Creek etc and subcontract the service out to a private operator.

Reimagining the suburbs
There's no shortage of potential for a more (efficient) grid-like system that moves to zero or low-emission bus service with enhanced features and better bus stops.

Assuming the Denver Chamber voter initiative for transportation passes in November then it would free the metro area to create a 2nd voter initiative (in 2020?) primarily focused on transit. Something like a 65%-35% transit to local transportation funding could be mighty attractive to voters. A more environmentally friendly fleet should be a part of the appeal.
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  #11359  
Old Posted May 17, 2018, 4:34 PM
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Sam Hill... tailor made for you

The Joys Of Denver's Light Rail
Mar 14, 2016 by Jessie Hendrixson At Metropolitan State University of Denver/The Odyssey
Quote:
Did I say joys? I meant to say horrors.

Ah, public transportation! ... On a good day, taking public transportation to wherever your destination may be, [hopefully] will not traumatize you.
Although written in 2016 this is a delightful read and her tweets are hilarious. Even scarier since it's about light rail, we can assume the adventures on buses are even more interesting.

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Originally Posted by DUPio View Post
There are a lot of little things that RTD doesn't get right that could reasonably be fixed and add up to a much better experience.
It's always interesting to hear anecdotal experiences. We can hope that over time many of these little things can be greatly improved. 'It's always the little things in life that irritate the most.'
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Old Posted May 17, 2018, 5:34 PM
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Heh Buddy, What would it cost today to build urban light rail in Denver?
Good question Doobie, but at least you've come to the expert!

What we know
  • In 2008 Valley Metro/Phoenix opened a 20-mile 'urban' light rail line for $70 million per mile.
  • Today Valley Metro is preparing to build a new 5-mile line for about $150 million per mile. Note: due to a few complicating factors including grade separation the cost per mile could be skewed higher.
  • Nashville had projected a light rail cost of about $120 million per mile.
  • MARTA/Atlanta is projecting a cost of $125 million per mile for four miles of grade-separated light rail service.
What about the pending proposal for the SW light rail line in Minneapolis?

Price volatility may continue for Southwest light rail
May 16, 2018 By: Brian Johnson/Finance and Commerce
Quote:
The 7.8 percent increase, announced Tuesday, pushes the project’s cost to just more than $2 billion. The Metropolitan Council blamed the $145 million increase on higher costs associated with building materials, land acquisition, freight rail negotiations, environmental analysis, rebidding of the civil construction contract and more.
The 14.5 mile line is now estimated to cost a little less than $140 million per mile. But wait... there's more good news ahead.
Quote:
A national construction economist says more sticker shock could be on the way for the planned 14.5-mile Southwest Light Rail Transit project between Minneapolis and Eden Prairie.

Ken Simonson, chief economist of the Washington, D.C.-based Associated General Contractors of America, said he would “absolutely” be concerned about further cost escalations, given the rising cost of steel, concrete, aluminum and other inputs in recent months.
Golly, any more delightful news?
Quote:
Gasoline and diesel costs are also trending higher and that looms large for a project that requires copious amounts of fuel for digging, lifting and delivering materials, he said.

Land prices are a big concern.
I would look at this project as being a solid peer comparison and the most current and real estimate for costs. That said, this project has had an ongoing entanglement of various political and logistical issues.
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Cool... Denver has reached puberty.
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