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. 

Walking vs Bikes vs Cars vs Bus vs Subway vs Train vs Hyperloop

“Why cars remain so appealing even in cities with decent public transit – The Washington Post”
http://m.washingtonpost.com/blogs/wonkblog/wp/2014/07/07/why-cars-remain-so-appealing-even-in-cities-with-decent-public-transit/
Decent article that says no matter the cost of transportation (like ownership costs of a car or the cheapness of a bike), time is often deciding factor for Americans. This is precisely why the Colorado Hyperloop is a good match for time, distance and cost.

Colorado’s “retro-futuristic” Hyperloop

Hopefully the Hyperloop will not be based on Londons plans in the video above but something more reasonable below…

Sure the Hyperloop looks like a subway that is above ground. But what sets it aside from the retro subway is the “futuristic” speed and high quality efficacy.

In order for the hyperloop to be built, we need to look around the world at other transport systems. If we will find a piece of one system that sets it apart from others, in a good way, those elements should be included in the hyperloop.  The Colorado Hyperloop should be a “transport enthusiast’s paradise”.

The “retro-futuristic” comes from an article from the Guardian this morning:

Cities in motion: transport is as key to urban character as buildings or accents

Kicking off a new series on how people move through cities, we look at how trains and traffic reveal the way a place sees itself

The author of the article, Colin Marshall, is an expert in cities and culture. Strangely, he has not written a blog post on the hyperloop. Yet, he nails what has already been built:

 “American cities don’t usually represent themselves with elements of transit – apart, that is, from the classic yellow school bus.

Regular American city buses, marginalised due to the supposed poverty of their riders, often end up providing an even more inconvenient, unpleasant riding experience than its school buses. Gearing public transport towards the bottom of the socioeconomic scale, especially a bottom seen as isolated from or in conflict with the majority, impedes the popularity and thus implementation of improvements. Dedicating a bus lane in Los Angeles has proven a task comparable to the labours of Hercules.

The bicycle in America has only just begun to escape similar associations. Most designations of bike-friendliness have gone not to proper cities but college towns: Davis, Boulder, Long Beach, Iowa City – places that, while pleasant enough, command little national, let alone international import. Modest Portland, Oregon, the US city in which I most enjoy cycling, feels like a Tokyo or Seoul by comparison. Yet despite its reputation as a paradise for alternative transport, I always notice suspiciously few normally clothed riders on the road there with me. Ride a bike in any of America’s supposedly top cities to do so, and you come to know the still-strong American genius for branding, as opposed to the faltering American genius for execution. When Los Angeles laid down its first high-profile cycle lane, the rain washed it mostly away within months.

Even as a city’s forms of transport empower us, they limit us, reducing us to a narrow set of obsessions: New Yorkers’ compulsive but futile questions about when the train will come; Angelenos’ sad, Sisyphean quest for free parking; Copenhageners’ budgeting for their next bicycle when their current one inevitably gets stolen; Londoners’ ceaseless insistence that the whole of their infrastructure lies more or less in ruins. Yet they can also make manifest the human ingenuity that makes such improbable accretions as cities work in the first place.

This goes a fair way to explaining the seething frustrations of many American cities, composed in large part of poor people in cars, made ever poorer by their associated costs. Peñalosa has also spoken of our “need to walk, just as birds need to fly”, suggesting a city’s need for “pedestrian infrastructure shows respect for human dignity”. And indeed, you can learn as much about a city from observing how people walk in it as how they ride, cycle, and drive. I did so in London, whose citizens cross the street any time they please, regardless of what the traffic signal says. Me and my Los Angeles compatriots remain, alas, too cowed by the pricey threat of jaywalking tickets, the monstrously aggressive (and in my experience mythical) spectre of the “LA driver”, and the sheer width of the roads to do the same.

We can learn from London, I told myself, and the thought cheered me. It had to, as I’d wound up stranded by the tube strike, an illuminating transport phenomenon which had me revising my opinions about the city all over again. We can learn from London, yes, but let’s not learn everything from it.

Luckily it is people like Mr Marshall that can find the essence in the human reaction to transport. He and others will hopefully provide insight as to how the hyperloop is developed and built.