By Morgan Landers

Based on buzz alone, it is fairly safe to say that Portland, OR could be put into the “Seven Wonders” of the United States planned cities along with a handful of others like Minneapolis, New York, and……Denver! Up until a month ago, I was somewhat ashamed to tell fellow professional planners that I had never been there, let alone partake in a conversation about it. I am pleased to report that I have had the privilege of visiting Portland in the last month and I was pretty impressed. I also visited Seattle a few weeks later and something dawned on me….why is public transportation such a well known, well publicized option in some major metropolitan areas and not in others?

After traveling from airport, to house, to friend’s house, to restaurant, to store, to bar, to house; Portland and Denver are neck and neck when it comes to seeing the sites while getting around town. It seems that these cities go out of their way to make public transit accessible and noticeable as a transportation option. Seattle, however didn’t seem to be as well publicized. Whether I am on the light rail in Denver or the streetcar in Portland, I found it intuitive and easy to get around.

The transit options in Seattle, other than the ferries, seemed segmented at first glance, however, when looking into it further, there are still a lot of options. How did I miss it? It makes me believe that it all boils down to how transportation agencies get the word out. Public transit is expensive and a huge investment, Portland and Denver (especially with a big hole in the Union Station Redevelopment and FasTracks) has really done a good job of letting people know what is there and push ridership constantly. Not claiming to be a transportation planner, or even wanting to tackle the budget crisis that many transit projects deal with, it seems that successful transit systems put a lot of effort into advertising and ridership initiatives.

Public transportation is a huge component to urban living and Denver has created an amazing transportation system that many people take advantage of on a daily basis. The more people know, the more they use it, the more money it makes….right? Other cities should follow Denver’s example and put the word out to get on the bus, light rail, or streetcar.

As an avid public transportation user and bike commuter in Denver, I am pleased to see that Colorado’s continued support for alternative transportation is progressive and on par with the likes of Portland. Let’s continue to get the word out about alternative transportation options and push the systems to become more convenient and more efficient!

I am happy to be part of the DenverUrbanism blog team and can’t wait to see what everyone is talking about!


Morgan Landers has a Bachelor of Environmental Design from CU Boulder and a Master of Urban and Regional Planning from CU Denver. She currently works as the staff planner for a brownfield redevelopment company in Denver. Her interests include infill development, community outreach/involvement, and environmental planning. As a member of the DenverUrbanism Team, she will discuss a variety of topics about living and working in urban environments.