What an exciting year 2016 is shaping up to be for the Regional Transportation District and the many users of public transportation across the Denver metro area. In addition to great bus service, Denver light rail is expanding. RTD will more than double it’s miles of rail in the metro area by year’s end with the opening of four new routes as part of the FasTracks program.
The FasTracks trains are an important part of the Denver economy. Already, commercial and residential development has blossomed around existing rail stations. This is called “transit-oriented development”. More stations are likely to create the same new development improving the communities around them.
Light Rail Helps Denver Relocation
This is great for those of us who already live here. It’s great as a “big-city amenity” that will help continue to draw more employers and relocation home buyers to our area. That’s good for our economy. Denver enjoys a lower than average unemployment rate as a result of employers relocating to Denver. One criteria large companies often use in evaluating cities for possible corporate relocation is the quality of the public transportation. Companies want their employees to feel “mobile”. So, now that the lines are expanding throughout the metro area, that should help Denver continue to attract more large employers.
Real estate values are helped by more and more relocation buyers moving into the metro area. Colorado is now adding almost 9000 new residents moving here every month. In fact, studies have shown that homes located near newly opened rail stations tend to increase in value more than surrounding homes. Denver’s rail is good for property values.
New Rail Line to Denver International Airport
The most anticipated of the openings is The University of Colorado A Line, which is scheduled to take place on April 22nd and will finally give travelers the option of riding the train to and from Denver International Airport. The 23-mile line will include 8 different stops including Union Station in Lower Downtown Denver and Denver International Airport – the respective start and end points of the line. Of the 8 stops, 6 will provide an additional 4,300+ parking spots at a very discounted fee. No more need to add $13 to $24 per day to your vacation budget for merely parking at the airport.
What really is great to think is that you’ll never again have to battle traffic on the elevated portion of I-70 to pick up your great aunt or old college roommate. The train will get passengers from DIA to Union station in 37 minutes at no more that $9 for the trip. With Denver traffic continually getting more congested, travelers will more than likely save time by riding the train. Additionally, trains will run with no more than a 30-minute interval (a lot more frequently during peak hours) and will run just shy of 24 hours per day. How we’ve lived and traveled without the A Line is beyond me!
Northwest Line Also Will Open
The second opening will be the initial portion of the Northwest Rail Line or the B Line. The 6-mile route will connect you from the new Westminster Park and Ride located at 71st and Lowell Blvd. to Union Station in 11 minutes. This 6-mile portion of the B Line, which is scheduled to open this summer, is only the start to a route that will eventually allow you to travel by train to Longmont, CO with stops at Flatirons Mall, Louisville, Boulder and Gunbarrel.
The G Line is an 11-mile route which will run from Union Station to Wheat Ridge through Northwest Denver with notable stops at the new Park and Ride at 41st and Fox at the border of the Globeville and Lower Highland neighborhoods and a stop in Olde Town Arvada. A total of 2,230 new parking spaces will open along with this route that is slated to open this fall.
Lastly, the R Line is scheduled to open towards the end of the year. This line will allow travelers heading from the Airport the ability to transfer trains at the Peoria Park and Ride and head towards some of the south suburban communities of Aurora, Lone Tree, Centennial, Littleton, Highlands Ranch and Greenwood Village. The R Line is the 10.5-mile extension to an existing line, which ended at the Nine Mile Park and Ride in Aurora. This extension will now allow travelers access to Anschutz Medical Center, Children’s Hospital, the new VA Hospital at Fitzsimons and the Aurora City Center.
The Denver metro area has been growing at a tremendous pace over the past few years – it is great to see public services like RTD’s FasTracks making progress to help us all get around.