Blog note, Business/Economy, Denver, Rob Natelson, Transportation

Colorado light rail; commuting at nineteenth century speeds

Commuting by car from my home in Lakewood to the Independence Institute (in Denver’s uptown neighborhood) usually takes an intense 18 minutes—25 minutes in heavy traffic.

But today I decided to take “light rail.”

icon_blog_noteI use the term “light rail” somewhat awkwardly. When I was growing up, I was taught to call it the “trolley,” and in those days the trolley, er, light rail, wasn’t new or fashionable. It was old and definitely on the way out. Buses and cars were more flexible, and they didn’t need all those ugly wires.

But that was then and this is now, and new or old, it was finally installed (re-installed?) near our home after years of delays. So why not try it? I helped pay for it.

My wife and I left our home by car at 8:20 a.m., and she dropped me at the station shortly thereafter. I took the 8:34 for Union Station, which is the station closest to the Institute. (Free tip: Don’t use the seats if you have back problems.) From Union Station, I hopped the free mall bus. (Another free tip: Don’t use the seats in this bus either if you have back problems.) After a picturesque stop-and-go, the bus let me off at 16th & Curtis, and from there I walked to the Institute.

Result: Instead of a tedious drive of 18 minutes, using modern mass transit I was able to zip to work in only 1 hour and 19 minutes!

Here’s another way of thinking about it: Not counting the walk at the end, RTD took me ten miles in about an hour. By patronizing mass transit instead of sitting in my car, I reached a speed not usually associated with travel since the days of Jane Austen!

And at the end of the trip, I realized yet another benefit: Being stuck in the middle of Denver without any convenient way to get anywhere.

So to RTD and all those who arranged for us to fork over so much to re-install the city trolley, all I can say is “Great job, guys!”  Not fast, maybe, but great!

Rob Natelson is senior fellow in Constitutional Jurisprudence at the Independence Institute, a free market think tank in Denver



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