For Some in Denver the Street-Side Bus Stop Isn’t Good Enough

Hi everyone, my name is Xavier Williams. I’m new to DenverUrbanism and recently moved back to Denver from New York City. In some ways I’m a native, being born here (left quite young though) and have been constantly returning to see a boatload of family, but in other ways I’m new to Denver. I work for the City of Boulder as a Project Coordinator and have an academic background in Urban Planning.

I’ll be covering aspects of the transit experience in Denver. Motivation? Besides relying on public transit myself each day, we are a city going through heretofore unprecedented growth, which means that Denver is having a very special moment. I’m excited to join the cadre of voices at DenverUrbanism that are critically and plainly thinking about the evolution of Denver’s urban systems and infrastructure. A focus on transit makes sense. The overarching imperative here with this first and subsequent posts from me is to examine what’s working for and against moving the needle forward from the reported 6% of Denver’s population that commutes to work using bus or rail.

To begin, I’ll be looking at street-side bus stops. Take a look at these two here, the first is at the corner of Tower Road and East 38th Avenue and the second is located near the corner of York Street and East 28th Avenue, both of which are located in RTD’s District B.

RTD bus stop at 38th Avenue and Tower Road
RTD bus stop at 28th Avenue and York Street

These two stops reveal something quite interesting and raise questions as well. But first some context: according to the RTD Bus Infrastructure Design Guidelines and Criteria (2016), RTD categorizes the bus stops that dot its system map into four “transit-facility” types: Park and Ride (PnR), Bus Rapid Transit (BRT), Transfer Station (Kiss-n-Ride), and Street-side Bus Stops. By far the most common among these are the street-side bus stops. This last type has quite a range to it; some can be awesome, elegantly simple solutions to a need for public transportation close to home or work, and yet others can fall far short of success.

This brings us back to the aforementioned two stops. I see a few things wrong: a trash bin that bears no resemblance to your typical RTD waste receptacle (so I assume it’s a form of guerrilla waste management), and in the other a location marred by the lack of seating (those green traffic signal cabinets should not have to count as seating), no place to deposit trash (but the sheer volume of litter does tell you something about how often this bus stop gets used), and a location that abuts four-lane traffic along Tower Road. According to RTD’s guidelines and criteria, how do these two stops that are so different from each other both exist?

Realistically speaking, it’s unlikely that every bus stop in the RTD system is going to tick all the boxes of comfort and convenience—at least not overnight—but examining these seemingly minor deficiencies should matter to those who would see our city make even incremental gains in transit ridership.

More to come about street-side bus stops and RTD’s criteria for them in my next post.

Xavier Williams, originally from Denver, lives in Northeast Denver and is a recent transplant from Harlem in New York City. He’s most interested in transit, and public space programming and design. Before returning home in 2018 he obtained a MA in Theories of Urban Practice from The New School, Parsons School of Design, and worked for several years in natural disaster resiliency planning.
By |2018-10-05T02:07:53+00:00September 27, 2018|Categories: Infrastructure, Transit|8 Comments

8 Comments

  1. Thursday’s Headlines – Streetsblog Denver September 27, 2018 at 2:36 pm

    […] RTD Bus Stops Rob People’s Dignity, Are Inaccessible (DenverUrbanism) […]

  2. Matthew Baker September 27, 2018 at 3:06 pm

    My favourite is the stop on the NW side of 39TH & Sheridan (BSID 16475)… also SW side of 84TH & Federal (BSID 13764)…

  3. Scott Kesser September 27, 2018 at 10:10 pm

    Dude, we don’t even have sidewalks in a large part of the city (note photo one). Let’s focus on the obvious problem first.

    • Ken Schroeppel September 28, 2018 at 2:01 am

      Agreed, sidewalks are a huge issue but the upgrading bus stops is the perfect thing to do while you’re putting in new sidewalks. We can and should do both at the same time.

    • Xavier October 3, 2018 at 5:06 am

      Thanks for the comment, Scott. I think depending on the commuter, it’s all obvious and – to your point – the sidewalk would be no exception. In particular, that matters to persons with disabilities where consideration of their ability to wait and board can be a matter of regulatory compliance. Check out the RTD Bus Infrastructure Design Guidelines and Criteria (2016) for more information about surface requirements for RTD-maintained “bus-boarding and alighting areas”. You might also be interested in the city’s Neighborhood Sidewalk Repair program, set to begin implementation soon and funded with a bond voters approved in 2017. There’s a map in this article (https://www.denverpost.com/2017/12/19/denver-inspect-sidewalks/) about the program illustrating the reported percentage of the city that’s missing a sidewalk.

  4. Anna September 28, 2018 at 4:20 pm

    Thank you for the article, Xavier. We don’t have a lot of proper and needed infrastructure in and around Denver, especially considering the recent influx of people. The only thing that will help is the repeal of TABOR. Otherwise, neither RTD nor any other municipal agency will ever have enough money to function properly. Denverites are very loud complainers when it comes to infrastructure, but they keep voting against tax increases. TABOR holds the entire state back; only its repeal will move things forward. It’s time for new laws for a new Colorado.

    • jmiller September 30, 2018 at 3:52 am

      Anna is right. I have been canvassing for a state-wide political candidate for many months. Few residents of Denver even know about TABOR despite being here when it was voted in. I remember the vote and how we knew back then that it was going to eventually slow quality of life in Colorado. For my money, there is no more important issue in this state than the repeal of TABOR.

    • Paul October 1, 2018 at 2:30 pm

      You do realize that Denver is de-TABOR’ed in terms of the budgetary growth limitations? Or are you referring to TABOR holding back local government because tax and bond increases require voter approval? IMO it’s at the state level where TABOR’s impact has been greatest felt, and we are really seeing the impact that lack of infrastructure investment has had as money has been shifted elsewhere or cut.

      I’m not sure if RTD lacks funding, but it is certainly all directed at commuting riders from the suburbs via our investments in light and commuter rail, not on local city routes. The question should be if RTD, beholden to a board that covers a largely suburban footprint, is the best organization to deliver local service in Denver.

Comments are closed.