Learning from Denver

The Stranger’s Erica Barnett is in Denver reporting on the opening of the regions new T-REX transportation project. The T-REX project can certainly teach us something about how to handle megaprojects. A $1.7 billion project, completed in 5 years, widening 17 miles of freeway and adding 19 miles of light rail.


However, this project has disproved one frequently made assertion: light rail is not always preferred to buses. From the Rocky Mountain News:

Swamped with an “unprecedented” barrage of complaints about longer commutes that accompanied the startup of T-REX light-rail service, RTD is making changes to bus schedules and routes, but it won’t bring back the popular express buses it eliminated.

But the source of many of the complaints – elimination of direct nonstop coach bus rides from far-out suburban park-n-Rides to downtown or the Denver Tech Center – remains. Regional Transportation District staff said with Southeast light-rail lines serving as the new spine of the corridor, it can’t afford to compete with itself by adding some of the canceled bus routes.

Something to think about as Sound Transit 2 proposes a massive light rail expansion.


2 responses to “Learning from Denver

  1. Nathanael Nerode

    One of the major reasons for building Denver’s light rail is that those express buses are *very* expensive to run. People like them, but they cost cost cost. The light rail is substantially cheaper to operate, to move the same number of people or more.

    If the rail becomes populare enough, they may be able to add some express trains sometime (not nearly such a cash drain).

  2. I don’t know if this was true with the express buses mentioned, but they often operate at limited frequencies, e.g. during peak periods only. Light rail, on the other hand, is almost always frequent all the time. Basically, its limited, high-quality service vs. abundant, OK-quality service.

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