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Archive of posts filed under the Multi-Modal Transport category.

Denver Proposes Arterial BRT on East Colfax

The Colfax Corridor Connections project held two public meetings last week, following a year of extensive modeling and analysis, to review the “preliminary locally preferred alternative” of arterial bus rapid transit on Colfax between Auraria and the Anschutz Medical Campus, with all-day service and using exclusive lanes during peak hours. Previous public meetings described the screening out of non-traditional urban corridor options, and options that would only be appropriate in areas with vastly higher capacity needs. This third phase closely analyzed the three remaining alternatives: enhanced bus, modern streetcar, and bus rapid transit.

The three alternatives, which would replace today’s 15L service, would all feature distinct low-floor vehicles with multi-door boarding, off-board ticketing at bulb-out stations, real-time passenger information at stations, signal priority at intersections and frequent operations with 5-minute headways.

Image source: City of Denver: www.ColfaxCorridorConnections.com

Image source: City of Denver: www.ColfaxCorridorConnections.com

In keeping with the Denver Strategic Transportation Plan’s direction to use multimodal improvements to increase the person-trip capacity of our streets (a true multi-modal evaluation, rather than older methods counting vehicle capacity), this study used DRCOG’s Focus Travel Model, an activity-based demand model, to estimate total corridor person-trip demand under the remaining alternatives. By evaluating alternatives with an eye towards total corridor person-trip demand, and confirming that the proposed service can meet the demand generated by the new service, BRT demonstrates nearly all the capacity benefits of the streetcar alternative at approximately 25% of the capital cost and at lower operating cost.

The lower capital cost of the BRT alternative means that the project would be appropriate for federal Small Starts or New Starts funding (total capital costs of less than $250 million), which have relatively low local match requirements. The project team told attendees that the very good “cost effectiveness” for this alternative  – a number calculated based on an Federal Transit Administration formula for an all-inclusive cost per rider – shows that it would be highly competitive for federal funds, driven by the high ridership on the corridor.

A key feature of the BRT and streetcar alternatives is exclusive use of one lane in each direction during peak hours. This is critical to alleviating the unpredictable arrival times of buses on Colfax which today “bunch up” due to getting caught in traffic – a situation that would only get worse without the dedicated lanes as traffic and demand increase over time. The modeling estimates that daily transit demand would only increase from 22,000 today to 26,000 in 2035 with no action, or to 33,000 with an enhanced bus option in shared lanes. But transit ridership would increase to 43,000 per day under the BRT proposal with peak-hour exclusive lanes. (Streetcar with peak-hour exclusive lanes would be similar, with a small further increase due to slightly shorter end-to-end times and a passenger bias to use rail.)

Another way to look at the higher person-trip capacity on Colfax with these improvements is to realize that the demand for east-west travel will exist whether or not the improvements are made – but without the improvements, Colfax won’t be able to carry as much of it, meaning increased traffic in adjacent neighborhoods and less economic activity on Colfax.

Is it a bold proposal? I would say it’s a bold, smart proposal. It’s a bold proposal because it will take real political will, backed by the support of urbanists, to walk our multimodal talk and make choices such as peak-hour dedicated lanes to optimize for person-trip capacity on this key urban corridor. We cannot let our elected leaders become paralyzed with fear of offending those who only think about the world as a single-occupant-vehicle driver. It’s a smart proposal because it captures nearly all of the benefits possible at a reasonable price with a good shot at near-term funding.

This should be just the first in what becomes Denver’s new direction to lead on transit planning throughout the city.

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Joel Noble is a Denver native who focuses on neighborhoods, transportation and city development topics through his many volunteer roles. He is President of Curtis Park Neighbors, Co-chair of the Inter-Neighborhood Cooperation‘s Transportation Committee, a Boardmember with the Five Points Business District (FPBD), and a member of the Denver Planning Board. He has been an active participant in developing area plans, business district plans, streetcar and transit plans, and in the citywide Zoning Code Update. Joel believes that there is great power in bringing community together with city departments and other agencies to develop vision and to implement plans for the future of our city. Professionally, Joel works in IT as a systems engineer.


The biggest bikeshare station in each US city

New York’s 67-dock station. Photo from Google.

New York’s 67-dock station. Photo from Google.

The largest individual station in Denver’s B-Cycle network, the REI station, has 27 docks. How does that stack up to other cities?

New York’s Citi Bike has by far the biggest stations in the US. Its largest, which is outside Penn Station, has a whopping 67 docks. That’s almost 50% larger than the next city’s largest station.

Here’s the number of docks at the biggest station in America’s main big-city bikeshare systems. The 30 or so US bikeshare systems that aren’t listed here are all smaller, and all have smaller biggest stations.

Largest individual bikeshare station
Rank City Largest station Docks at largest station
1 New York Penn Station 67
2 Boston South Station 46
3 Washington Dupont Circle 45
4 Chicago Michigan/Washington 43
5 Minneapolis Coffman Union and Lake/Knox 32
6 Miami Beach 46th/Collins 31
7t Denver REI 27
7t San Francisco Market/10th and 2nd/Townsend 27

WalkDenver’s Policy Advocacy Gains Momentum

By Jill Locantore, WalkDenver Policy and Program Director

2014-08-08_PetitionQuote

Timothy is just one of more than 900 people who have signed (electronically and on paper) WalkDenver’s petition calling upon the City to establish a Pedestrian Advisory Committee and adopt a Denver Moves Pedestrians implementation plan. More than 30 partners have provided letters of support as well–view the full list on the WalkDenver website.

This groundswell of support is having an impact: last week the WalkDenver team met with senior city officials to discuss our policy goals, and was very well received. We learned that the draft 2015 City budget includes funding for a Denver Moves Pedestrians plan. With support from Public Works and Community Planning and Development we have initiated the process of establishing a Pedestrian Advisory Committee. Now we are working to schedule a meeting with the Mayor, to emphasize the importance of walkability in Denver and ensure funding for a pedestrian plan is maintained in the final City budget.

The more petition signatures and support letters we can present to the Mayor, the greater our chances of success. If you haven’t done so already, please sign the petition today, and help us spread the word! If your organization would like to provide a letter of support, contact WalkDenver’s Executive Director Gosia Kung at gosia.kung@walkdenver.org.

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A version of this post also appeared on WalkDenver’s blog at http://www.walkdenver.org/walkdenvers-policy-advocacy-gains-momentum/


It’s a huge weekend for US transit openings

Mid summer is prime time for big transit openings, and this weekend is a doozy. Three big projects around the US are opening today or tomorrow.

  
Left: Denver Union Station photo by Ryan Dravitz. Center: DC Silver Line photo by Fairfax County. Right: Tucson streetcar photo by Bill Morrow.

By now, probably everyone who reads DenverUrbanism knows the interior of Denver Union Station officially opens tomorrow.

Out east, that same day, Washington, DC’s new Metrorail Silver Line opens. The Silver Line expands America’s second busiest subway network by about 10%, although the new portions are above ground.

But Tucson beats both Denver and DC by one day. Their Sun Link streetcar opens today, at 9:00 am Mountain Time. It’s the first modern rail line in Tucson.

All these projects have been a long, difficult road. It’s great to see them starting to pay off.


Photographic proof bikes and streetcars work together

Despite the fact that streetcar tracks can be hazards to cyclists, bikes and streetcars are great allies.

They both help produce more livable, walkable, less car-dependent streets. It’s no coincidence that the same cities are often leaders in both categories. In the US, Portland has both the highest bike mode share and the largest modern streetcar network. In Europe, Amsterdam is even more impressive as both a streetcar city and a bike city.

With that in mind, here’s a collection of photos from Amsterdam showing bikes and streetcars living together.

  
  
All photos from BeyondDC.com

Of course, it doesn’t just happen. It’s easy for bikes and streetcars in Amsterdam to avoid one another, and to interact safely, because each one has clearly delineated, high-quality infrastructure.

Chalk that up as one more reason to build both good bike lanes and great transit.