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.