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Archive of posts filed under the Transit category.

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.


FasTracks Progress: Union Station

As I was out and about with my camera taking infill project photos for DenverInfill, I noticed something different about the north end of the commuter rail station at Union Station!

Recently, workers have been putting up the poles for the catenary wire system that will be used for the EMU trains. Electric (EMU) trains, with the overhead wire system, will be used for the Northwest, North Metro, Gold and East Line. Here are some photos!

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It’s very exciting to see all of the pieces start to come together!


Goodbye Market Street Station!

With the new Denver Union Station Transit Center now open, it is time to say goodbye to Market Street Station. The 30-year old station has served many transit riders including myself and I’m sure many of you have memories using this station throughout its legacy. Today we are here to say goodbye and take a look at some final photos before it becomes another memory in Denver history.

The outside of the station always had an interesting mix of architecture. From the 1970′s style waiting area mixed in with tents similar to Denver International Airport to chess pieces as benches, this plaza has always been a very unique sight. Also, did you notice 16M in the background? This intersection is going through many changes.

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For being a product of the 1970′s, these entrance buildings are still pretty sleek.

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Time to head down to the station! Unlike Chestnut Pavilion and Wewatta Pavilion, these are very narrow passageways with a narrow central staircase.

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Once you make it down, you are greeted with a very dark, green tinted great hall with very uncomfortable, round, granite seats. In the center, there is a ticket booth counter and restrooms in the back. Behind all of that, you will find Gate 5 in a nice, tucked away, easy to miss corner.

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When your bus arrives, the bus door is right up against the gate door. If you have any large bags, it’s going to be difficult to get them into the cargo compartments of the bus.

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No matter how dark, uncomfortable, and smelly Market Street Station was, it still held a lot of sentimental value to a lot of riders. Every wall in the station is covered with memories, and goodbyes to the station.

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Back outside, between the two entrances, you are greeted with the same uncomfortable, round, granite seats that skateboarders used more for tricks more than pedestrians for seating.

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And how can we ever forget the bright, red way-finders at each corner of the block?

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What’s next for Market Street Station? A pair of Denver developers have very high interest on redeveloping the block into a mixed use building or two, much like 16M. The only building that stays is RTD’s headquarters at 1600 Blake Street. For now, it’s goodbye Market Street Station!


FasTracks Progress: Union Station Transit Complex Opens!

It’s been a long, long time coming, but the $500 million Denver Union Station Transit Center is COMPLETE and will open for transit operations tomorrow! This is undoubtedly a game changer for downtown Denver and represents the realization of nearly three decades of planning efforts, if not more. Ryan D. covered the grand opening ceremonies in two posts (parts one and two) yesterday on DenverInfill.

The Denver Union Station Transit Center (any ideas for a nickname?) consists of three major transit components: light rail (open in 2011), bus (open now), and commuter rail (coming in 2016). Let’s take a look at each of those components and how they fit into one of the most expensive infrastructure investments since Denver International Airport.

RTD has produced (and agreed to share) this great image that gives a general overview as to how the three components fit together and where the different modes provide service to.

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The locations and facilities labeled in orange on the image above are now complete and will be open for the general public on Sunday, May 11, 2014. The Chestnut, Wewatta, and Union Station Pavilions provide the three main entrances to the underground bus station, complete with stairs, escalators, and elevators. The Platform 2 and Platform 4 Pavilions provide access from the Commuter Rail platform with stair and elevator access to the underground bus concourse (no escalators).

The light rail facility was relocated in 2011 and served as the first major component completed at Union Station as part of this massive project. This new station replaced the previous light rail platform which was located just south of Wewatta Street (right about where the Wewatta Pavilion is today). The 16th Street MallRide was also extended 2-3 blocks to serve the new light rail station at the same time.

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The underground bus station (which again….nickname?) is a sight to behold. A behemoth at 140 feet wide and 980 feet long, this 22-bay bus station has more than twice the capacity of Market Street’s 10 bays. The pedestrian concourse isn’t anything to sneeze at, coming in at 44 feet wide and 780 feet long. Every bus that services Market Street Station today will service Union Station, in addition to the free MetroRide. Buses from Greyhound as well as other private bus companies are a possibility in the future (no definitive plans as of yet). CDOT announced this week that its new inter-regional bus system—which will connect Fort Collins, Colorado Springs, and Glenwood Springs (and points in between) with downtown Denver—will serve the underground bus station. This new service starts sometime next year!

DenverUrbanism and DenverInfill have tackled the bus station through several previous posts, so I won’t bombard you with pictures here, but let’s take a look at some before-and-after pictures of the bus facility. Better yet, head on down and take a look for yourself. Honestly, I was wary when I heard about the yellow tile (can anyone say outdated and tacky?) but I think it turned out great. Combined with the seven skylights, it really helps brighten the facility up and makes it seem even larger (if that was possible).

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The final and the most visible and stunning piece of transit infrastructure at Union Station has to be the commuter rail platform. Denver is known for lots of things (300 sunny days each year, active lifestyles, marijuana, etc.) but stunning and modern architecture tends to not make most people’s lists. This canopy will serve as an iconic welcome to those who arrive in downtown Denver by transit, whether it be the coming commuter rail lines, bus, or light rail.

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Union Station is big. It’s expensive. It’s important. It serves as the hub of the $6+ billion, decade-long infrastructure investment that is FasTracks. It will serve as the heart of transit throughout metro Denver. It will change how tens of thousands of people access downtown Denver on a daily basis. Get down there and take a look. Wander around. We all paid for it, and after decades of planning and years of construction, we can finally cash in on this investment.