Wednesday, June 22, 2005

Denver is Doing Mass Transit Right

Keith Schneider with the Michigan Land Use Institute compares the can-do approach to building a world-class mass transit system in Denver with the sluggishness of local leaders in Detroit, which he describes as "the slowest growing, most racially and economically segregated, yet also among the most congested and sprawling metropolitan regions in the nation."

The big difference between Denver and Detroit, Schneider writes, is that Denver's business, civic and political leaders share a core value: a “continuous intense pursuit” of public investments that assure economic competitiveness. And no investment, they argue, is more basic or vital than modernizing the region’s transportation system, especially mass transit.

Voters made mass transit a reality by approving an increase in the sales tax to fund the $4.7 billion construction project, which includes 119 more miles of light and commuter rail, 18 miles of rapid bus routes, and 57 new stations. It helped that the Regional Transit District was respected as one of the best-run in the country--in an unfortunate contrast to the Washington, D.C. Metro, which, The Washington Post has revealed in a recent series, has serious management deficiencies.

One last point. Although Schneider doesn't address the point explicitly, it appears that Denver insisted upon appropriate density and urban design around the transit stops to ensure maximum ridership. Sayeth Schneider:

Planners predict that when Denver’s FasTracks public transit system is finished in 2016, it will attract so much new development that half of the region’s new residents — 550,000 people — will live and work within walking distance or a short ride of a transit stop. The rail and rapid bus routes alone will carry a quarter of all rush-hour commuters.

It's too bad Denver's mass transit system won't be completed for another 11 years. It will be interested to see if it lives up to its billing.


At 12:17 AM, Blogger Ray Hyde said...

This sounds like Curitiba and dother places. The more stops you put in, the slower the transit, the more expenisve, and less usable it is.


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