RTD Too Expensive? Go Ride a Bike or Ride the Hyperloop!

Colorado Hyperloop Bike

 

There are always grumblings on RTD’s cost of tickets. An even bigger complaint is how complex they are in figuring out which one to buy. 9News and the Denver Business Journal follow up;

…pay for bus and train rides in the Denver area is probably going to change soon.
The Denver Regional Transportation District is working on a plan to simplify its fare system because it decided the current structure is just too complicated.

“It’s a mess,” argues rider Kathy Procopio ofArapahoe County. She has a point: there are three different kinds of bus fares depending how far you go, transfers to keep track of, and the light-rail system has four different zones with different prices.

So if people can’t figure out what to pay, how will they get the energy to use RTD? What if RTD needed a temporary fix for congestion? Well 9News and the Denver Business Journal have the scoop again:

If you drive along U.S. 36 between Denver and Boulder, you know It can be tough to maneuver around the construction. A new program, though, is aiming to cut down on the number of cars on the highway.

It would combine RTD public transportation with employees who work in this corridor, and it won’t cost those workers a thing.

Programs like this have been shown to be a very effective way to change commute behavior,” said Audrey DeBarros, executive director of the non-profit “36 Commuting Solutions,” which is administering the program.
The EcoPass pilot program combines two things: RTD transportation, like buses and light rail, and employees who work at companies within a quarter of a mile of a Park-n-Ride station along U.S. 36. The idea is to get as many as 1,000 workers in this corridor to ditch their cars in favor of public transportation– at no cost to them.

Very novel idea, but I fear RTD has not done enough of this across the entire RTD network.

Also, to add to the confusion, people think the organization is confusing bus rapid transit into the US 36 corridor.

BROOMFIELD — That Bus Rapid Transit system being installed as part of a $438 million retooling of U.S. 36 from Denver to Boulder isn’t what local transportation officials say it is.

At least that’s according to a nonprofit group that helps develop sustainable transportation efforts across the globe. The New York-based Institute for Transportation and Development Policy promotes Bus Rapid Transit efforts and certifies projects deemed truly BRT.

What’s being developed on U.S. 36 and being promoted by the Regional Transportation District is not truly BRT, said Annie Weinstock, the institute’s regional director for the U.S. and Africa.

“I would urge them not to call it BRT,” Weinstock said.

The problem for Weinstock is that specially made BRT buses will share an express lane on U.S. 36 with High Occupancy Vehicles and motorists willing to pay a toll.

BRT systems certified by the institute mimic rail transit and travel only in dedicated lanes not open to other vehicles.

Thanks for the input, but the corridor will still be promoted as including BRT, say RTD and local officials.

“If it’s true that U.S. 36 is not actually BRT, then that’s fair to say,” said Boulder Mayor Matthew Appelbaum. “But it’s also fair to say that this is a good mobility solution that can include most of the positive characteristics of BRT for less money and it’s an approach that works best in an area like this.”

“If they don’t like us stealing that name, then help us come up with something else,” Appelbaum added.

The U.S. 36 Express Lanes Project calls for building an express lane in each direction of U.S. 36, in addition to two free general-purpose lanes. The BRT vehicles are boarded from rail-like platforms that are level with bus doors and also tend to carry more passengers and run more frequently than standard buses.

As part of the U.S. 36 project, new electronic display signage will be in place at BRT stations, while new, widened shoulders will allow buses to operate between interchanges to decrease bus travel time.

Crews will also install Intelligent Transportation Systems, or ITS, for tolling, transit and traveler information and incident management.

The whole idea behind the revamped U.S. 36 corridor is to provide people with options for travel, including BRT, standard bus service, toll lanes and even a continuous bike path, said Pauletta Tonilas, RTD’s spokeswoman for its FasTracks program.

“This is going to be a great example of a multi-modal transportation system,” Tonilas said.

Cheap multi modal transport is still a new idea in the US. The Colorado’s hyperloop will be built and connected to every single transport mode RTD has to offer, and other modes like biking. The below video is missing future transportation initiatives, like the Hyperloop.

All modes of transport should cost as little as possible for the user and be good for the environment. Thus, is also interesting to see the recent initiative to build recreational bike trail from Wyoming to New Mexico. It is a goal set by Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper. From the bill itself:

MANY COLORADANS ENJOY BICYCLING AS A RECREATIONAL
8 ACTIVITY, THAT BICYCLISTS USE BICYCLE TRAILS ALONG AND ON EXISTING

9 ROADWAYS FOR RECREATIONAL PURPOSES AND TO ACCESS ADDITIONAL
10 RECREATIONAL OPPORTUNITIES, AND THAT SUBSTANTIAL PORTIONS OF NET
11 LOTTERY PROCEEDS ARE CONSTITUTIONALLY DEDICATED FOR OUTDOOR
12 RECREATIONAL PURPOSES AND MAY BE EXPENDED TO CONSTRUCT AND
13 EXPAND RECREATIONAL BICYCLE TRAILS ALONG AND ON EXISTING
14 ROADWAYS;

Interesting and noble, but 9News also states, that its not a done deal:

DENVER (AP) – A recreational bike trail from Wyoming to New Mexico is a goal set by Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper.

A proposal before the Colorado Senate Thursday could play a part in that goal.

The Senate Finance Committee starts work on a bill to encourage both the Division of Parks and Wildlife and local governments to spend a portion of the net lottery proceeds they receive to construct and expand recreational bicycle trails.

The bill wouldn’t be a mandate.

The sponsor is Republican Sen. Larry Crowder of Alamosa. He says bike trails should be a priority in spending lottery proceeds.

In conclusion, I think the trump card will still be speed of service. 

Car infrastructure or new Colorado Hyperloop?

cdotLogo

Questions of whether we should build a Colorado Hyperloop shouldn’t be a zero sum game.

If you don’t know what zero sum means in game theory, look at this video by President Clinton.

So lets imagine a future different from the past. Cars will forever be around. Rail will always be around. Hyperloop will be new, but it will show our interdependence on the other forms of transportation. A hyperloop will reveal that we are interdependent to each other as well.

Colorado relates to this important higher level of thinking because CDOT will be embarking on some major infrastructure projects that will affect people. The 9News report below shows that interdependence of other transportation links are important, but more so are the people and lives that these projects change.

The reason why we must avoid the racist highways/transit projects that divided our cities for years goes back to what Clinton was saying in the above video. We have to believe in interdependence and we have to believe that we will be better off when we work together. Below is the report related article from the 9News article:

DENVER – Mayor Michael Hancock joined a group of other Denver city council members and other regional officials to express support for the $1.8 billion dollar project to improve I-70 east of I-25.

The Colorado Department of Transportation hopes to begin work on the project in 2016. Mayor Hancock sent a letter to CDOT asking the agency to study ways to minimize the negative impact of the project on people who live in the neighborhoods that will be directly affected by it.

“My number one priority is to ensure this project supports the Elyria, Swansea and Globeville neighborhoods,” Hancock said at a news conference Friday. “I am concerned that the impacts of this project could be born disproportionately by the surrounding minority and low income communities.”

CDOT calls its plan the “Partial Cover Lowered Alternative” because it will put a section of I-70 underground and establish parks and landscaping on top of it.

When I-70 was originally built through the area 50 years ago it created economic hardships for residents of the neighborhoods due to property values and other negative impacts of an interstate highway, which was a common issue for the U.S. interstate system when it was built.

Mayor Hancock believes the new project is an opportunity to “…really elevate the people in this area who really have been victims of environmental injustice from over 50 years…” He called the improvements to I-70 “a chance to redevelop these neighborhoods, improve their quality of life and create job opportunities and create access to healthier living opportunities including fresh food in the neighborhoods as well as a way to improve their standard and quality of life in these areas.”

We need a higher level of feeling and thinking. The Colorado Hyperloop would enable people to go along the whole front range, fast, unfettered and at very low cost for the masses. This would relate to another Elon Musk possible project:

This post was provoked by a NYTimes, Mark Bittman op-ed section below:

So we should not be asking, “How will we feed the world?,” but “How can we help end poverty?” Claiming that increasing yield would feed the poor is like saying that producing more cars or private jets would guarantee that everyone had one.

Financing and PR Woes for CDOT

The biggest factors that the Colorado Hyperloop will have to deal with is public relations and financing. Nothing can happen without support of both interests.

So it is interesting to see what happened this week  with CDOT in on two of the busiest roads, I-70 and US 36. It goes from bad to worse for CDOT.

First, CDOT blames nightmare I-70 traffic on Colo. drivers on 9News. Bad weather, insane amounts of cars driving eastward and crazy confusing plans for avoiding the next bottleneck  created hours of waiting.

Second, CDOT: Better road could have been taken on U.S. 36 contract on The Denver Post.

Third, Lawmakers to grill CDOT on US 36 plan on 9News.

Fourth, Surprising CDOT, Lawmakers Push Back Over U.S. 36 Public-Private Partnership on KNUC.

Fifth,  Harsh words for CDOT at public meeting on 50-year U.S. 36 contract on the Daily Camera.

Sixth, well maybe there will be new push for building the Hyperloop? haha, woe unto me…