An Afternoon on Denver’s Fastracks

Michael Cain

Michael is a systems analyst, with a taste for obscure applied math. He's interested in energy supplies, the urban/rural divide, regional political differences in the US, and map-like things. Bicycling, and fencing (with swords, that is) act as stress relief.

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8 Responses

  1. Road Scholar says:

    Semi-OT, but you brought it up in the last paragraph and I’ve been meaning to ask: What the hell was the idea behind putting tolls on the 470 ring? There are lots of times I’m rolling in from the east to shoot north toward Cheyenne or vice-versa, or, lately, coming down I-76 to a destination in Aurora. It surely can’t be to relieve congestion on 270 or 225 because I can’t even drive on the damn thing with my truck given the stupid tolling system. No cash booths and you need a special tag or something. Useless.Report

    • E-470 — the piece you’re talking about — was built by local governments sans state or federal highway funds. The tolls and a voter-approved vehicle registration surcharge in one county seem to be covering the bonds plus operations and maintenance. Their goal had nothing to do with relieving congestion on the existing highways — it was to create a new development corridor and sane access to the new airport. The development part is working, starting with some millions of square feet of various commercial buildings along the south end. If I was flying out and going to drive to the airport from down there, I’d take it in a heartbeat.

      In theory, you can just use it now — the transponder thing isn’t necessary (although you get a discount if you have one). Pictures of your front and rear license plates are taken automatically and at the end of the month, the registered owner gets a bill. The couple of times I used it that’s how it worked. Pricey, but on those particular trips probably saved me at least 45 minutes each way.

      C-470 around the southwest metro area is a state road and free. The part of the northwest section that has been built is a similar toll scheme. No one has a workable scheme for ever finishing the northwest section — it will cost billions just for the last chunks of land.Report

      • Fish in reply to Michael Cain says:

        I used to have friends who lived in Auroroa (they’ve since moved back to Australia because the American medical system could not provide adequate care for them–but nevermind that) and it was nigh-on impossible to get to their house from the south unless I took E-470. The six-ish bucks it costs to get to the airport is totally worth it, too.Report

      • jason in reply to Michael Cain says:

        Yeah, traveling to DIA from Pueblo the 23 bucks (there and back) I pay for 470 is totally worth it. The on-ramp from I-25 is far enough south that you don’t have to deal with too much Denver traffic, and then you breeze on up to DIA. Not having to worry about a chunk of traffic on the trip is worth the money. And if I’m paying for parking at DIA, the toll is minuscule in comparison.Report

  2. A couple of Christmases ago, my spouse and I were back there for our smei-yearly trip to visit my family, and I tried to get on the light rail at Union Station (to DU station, near where my sister lived) and got lost. It was embarrassing to me–because I pride myself on knowing the system. It’s finally advanced beyond what I can follow from a distance.

    I do miss your metro, but I probably can’t call it home any more.Report

  3. Almost all of the stations have overhead signs that show how long until the next train arrives. The times were accurate. In this day and age, there’s no acceptable reason they shouldn’t be accurate.

    The underground stations of the Muni Metro (light rail) in San Francisco have four different sources for this information:

    * An animated map of the system that shows each train
    * Trackside overhead signs
    * Audio announcements
    * The trains themselves

    They generally all disagree.Report

    • Some days I despair of the public sector ever getting the software thing right. How hard is it to write a requirement that “time to next train” displays must be consistent?Report

      • Oscar Gordon in reply to Michael Cain says:

        Probably has more to do with fiefdoms and the various factions not wanting to have to play ball with the others. If you have 4 systems, and they all have to agree on something like an ETA, then one of those has to be the primary source for that data, and the others have to prioritize those values over their own.

        It’s amazing how such a thing can rankle project managers.Report