Jump to content




Photo

Colorado Front Range passenger rail... baby steps


  • Please log in to reply
28 replies to this topic

#21 RSG

RSG

    OBS Chief

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 267 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:Rocky Mountains USA
  • Interests:Travel, rail travel, libraries, current events

Posted 23 April 2017 - 07:08 PM

Unfortunately Denver made it much harder for a front range service to get into their station. The through track from the station to the south was cut and the Pepsi center built in the late 90's. It would have been so easy to retain that. Now Denver is a stub terminal and trains from the south no longer have an easy access. It can still be done, just requires a much more convoluted routing. The city planners didn't do themselves any favors for the long term to solve a short term problem.

As I happened to catch the CZ passing by when driving in north metro Denver a few months ago, I've since wondered if an enterprising suburb (say Arvada or similar) couldn't coordinate to bring another metro area stop for Amtrak. Seems to me it would be about as worthy as any other economic development plan that many of the 'burbs come up with.



#22 RSG

RSG

    OBS Chief

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 267 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:Rocky Mountains USA
  • Interests:Travel, rail travel, libraries, current events

Posted 23 April 2017 - 07:36 PM

When I was in Denver in October, the one thing that struck me as missing but being an easy addition was a large departure monitor. If one could walk into the station building and see a screen indicating that Amtrak Train 6 is now boarding on Track 5 and the next RTD train to the Airport will be leaving from Track 2 in 10 minutes that would, in my opinion, go a long way to helping passengers wade through the non-transportation-related business (and busy-ness) of the station. I recall there are small Amtrak status monitors near the platform-side doors but I do not recall any sort of signage for RTD train departures.

This is because there is a total failure as it relates to integration of services. Almost everything is segregated. Amtrak is separate from the heavy rail portion of the RTD Light Rail service (save for utilizing the same track just outside the station), true light rail is separate from the A-Line and the station itself, and the bus services are separate from everything else. It's like the people who designed it or are responsible for the implementation have never used any of the services which it provides (which I wouldn't be surprised if that were actually indeed the case). If the services were groups of people, there would be separate restrooms, waiting areas, and drinking fountains based on race and gender.
 
The only seamless transition is if you were arriving from the airport on the A-Line and departing on the CZ, with no checked baggage on the train. (And with prior ticket purchasing.)  Or the reverse, arriving on the CZ and taking the A-Line to locales outside downtown. (Again, with no baggage to retrieve.) I'm sure the designers would say "oh, we planned it that way because 'studies' showed that there is no overlap in transportation services" (um, maybe because it was practically impossible to do that previously so there was no incentive to do so?). But again, that shows the lack of forethought as to modern transportation planning. I predict the current setup will be useful for one thing in the future, however---it will be a model for how not to plan future integrated transportation layouts for other locales.

#23 PVD

PVD

    Engineer

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 1,399 posts

Posted 23 April 2017 - 08:27 PM

Now that the Gold Line goes out there from Union would it pay to put a stop there?



#24 RSG

RSG

    OBS Chief

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 267 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:Rocky Mountains USA
  • Interests:Travel, rail travel, libraries, current events

Posted 23 April 2017 - 08:59 PM

Now that the Gold Line goes out there from Union would it pay to put a stop there?

That might be an option; I was trying to think of possible spots on the light rail lines west of downtown but I haven't been on enough of them to know off the top of my head.

In any case, it would seem a westward 'expansion' would be the best bet. If the Ski Train remains a going concern, it would be a natural for a west suburban stop (providing access and parking are addressed). I can't imagine anyone who's schlepping equipment in the dead of winter would choose Union Station over a more accessible stop (unless, perhaps, one was coming from Watkins or extreme southeast metro Denver and took another light rail line into LoDo).



#25 Eric S

Eric S

    Engineer

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 2,208 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:Milwaukee

Posted 23 April 2017 - 09:35 PM

 

When I was in Denver in October, the one thing that struck me as missing but being an easy addition was a large departure monitor. If one could walk into the station building and see a screen indicating that Amtrak Train 6 is now boarding on Track 5 and the next RTD train to the Airport will be leaving from Track 2 in 10 minutes that would, in my opinion, go a long way to helping passengers wade through the non-transportation-related business (and busy-ness) of the station. I recall there are small Amtrak status monitors near the platform-side doors but I do not recall any sort of signage for RTD train departures.

This is because there is a total failure as it relates to integration of services. Almost everything is segregated. Amtrak is separate from the heavy rail portion of the RTD Light Rail service (save for utilizing the same track just outside the station), true light rail is separate from the A-Line and the station itself, and the bus services are separate from everything else. It's like the people who designed it or are responsible for the implementation have never used any of the services which it provides (which I wouldn't be surprised if that were actually indeed the case). If the services were groups of people, there would be separate restrooms, waiting areas, and drinking fountains based on race and gender.
 
The only seamless transition is if you were arriving from the airport on the A-Line and departing on the CZ, with no checked baggage on the train. (And with prior ticket purchasing.)  Or the reverse, arriving on the CZ and taking the A-Line to locales outside downtown. (Again, with no baggage to retrieve.) I'm sure the designers would say "oh, we planned it that way because 'studies' showed that there is no overlap in transportation services" (um, maybe because it was practically impossible to do that previously so there was no incentive to do so?). But again, that shows the lack of forethought as to modern transportation planning. I predict the current setup will be useful for one thing in the future, however---it will be a model for how not to plan future integrated transportation layouts for other locales.

 

Yes, I understand that RTD Commuter Rail services (Lines A, B, G) are physically separate from RTD Light Rail services (Lines C, E, W), with the bus tunnel sort of linking them. But why couldn't there be a large departure/train status display inside the traditional station building, large enough to be visible as you enter from the street, listing Amtrak and RTD Commuter Rail (Amtrak Train 5 on Track 5 and RTD A-Line to Airport on Track 2, or whatever)? And then add a line stating that Buses and Light Rail (or Lines C, E, W) can be accessed through the tunnel. Something like that would seem to go a long way to helping to bring together the disparate parts of the entire Union Station complex.



#26 railiner

railiner

    Engineer

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 4,737 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:Queens, NY
  • Interests:All public transportation....land, sea, and air

Posted 23 April 2017 - 11:36 PM

 

 

When I was in Denver in October, the one thing that struck me as missing but being an easy addition was a large departure monitor. If one could walk into the station building and see a screen indicating that Amtrak Train 6 is now boarding on Track 5 and the next RTD train to the Airport will be leaving from Track 2 in 10 minutes that would, in my opinion, go a long way to helping passengers wade through the non-transportation-related business (and busy-ness) of the station. I recall there are small Amtrak status monitors near the platform-side doors but I do not recall any sort of signage for RTD train departures.

This is because there is a total failure as it relates to integration of services. Almost everything is segregated. Amtrak is separate from the heavy rail portion of the RTD Light Rail service (save for utilizing the same track just outside the station), true light rail is separate from the A-Line and the station itself, and the bus services are separate from everything else. It's like the people who designed it or are responsible for the implementation have never used any of the services which it provides (which I wouldn't be surprised if that were actually indeed the case). If the services were groups of people, there would be separate restrooms, waiting areas, and drinking fountains based on race and gender.
 
The only seamless transition is if you were arriving from the airport on the A-Line and departing on the CZ, with no checked baggage on the train. (And with prior ticket purchasing.)  Or the reverse, arriving on the CZ and taking the A-Line to locales outside downtown. (Again, with no baggage to retrieve.) I'm sure the designers would say "oh, we planned it that way because 'studies' showed that there is no overlap in transportation services" (um, maybe because it was practically impossible to do that previously so there was no incentive to do so?). But again, that shows the lack of forethought as to modern transportation planning. I predict the current setup will be useful for one thing in the future, however---it will be a model for how not to plan future integrated transportation layouts for other locales.

 

Yes, I understand that RTD Commuter Rail services (Lines A, B, G) are physically separate from RTD Light Rail services (Lines C, E, W), with the bus tunnel sort of linking them. But why couldn't there be a large departure/train status display inside the traditional station building, large enough to be visible as you enter from the street, listing Amtrak and RTD Commuter Rail (Amtrak Train 5 on Track 5 and RTD A-Line to Airport on Track 2, or whatever)? And then add a line stating that Buses and Light Rail (or Lines C, E, W) can be accessed through the tunnel. Something like that would seem to go a long way to helping to bring together the disparate parts of the entire Union Station complex.

 

From what I have been reading in these posts, it seems the proprietor's of the "head house", don't want that...they don't even want to be associated with being a transportation hub, unless I am misinterpreting those posts.

Perhaps when the original redevelopment was written, Amtrak and RTD didn't get involved in this matter...now it may be too late....


metroblue?

okay on the blue!

#27 railiner

railiner

    Engineer

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 4,737 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:Queens, NY
  • Interests:All public transportation....land, sea, and air

Posted 23 April 2017 - 11:43 PM

 

I guess it's about time for me to 'slip over to Denver' to get a first-hand impression of what has become of my former home-away-from-home.... :)

I would be very interested to hear of your impressions once you do that, especially as a former employee. It truly sounds like you were there during the glory days of post-consolidation rail travel.

.

 

I'll be sure to post my findings here....

Interesting description..."post-consolidation rail travel"...I've never heard of it put that way...

I've always considered the "glory days" as those "pre-consolidation", if consolidation means the Amtrak era.... :)


metroblue?

okay on the blue!

#28 RSG

RSG

    OBS Chief

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 267 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:Rocky Mountains USA
  • Interests:Travel, rail travel, libraries, current events

Posted 24 April 2017 - 12:25 AM

Yes, I understand that RTD Commuter Rail services (Lines A, B, G) are physically separate from RTD Light Rail services (Lines C, E, W), with the bus tunnel sort of linking them. But why couldn't there be a large departure/train status display inside the traditional station building, large enough to be visible as you enter from the street, listing Amtrak and RTD Commuter Rail (Amtrak Train 5 on Track 5 and RTD A-Line to Airport on Track 2, or whatever)? And then add a line stating that Buses and Light Rail (or Lines C, E, W) can be accessed through the tunnel. Something like that would seem to go a long way to helping to bring together the disparate parts of the entire Union Station complex.

Because when services aren't connected, you don't see them as needing to be connected, and when they aren't needed to be connected, why on Earth would we have a status board connecting them all together?

That's the philosophical explanation. The other end of the argument, actually doing it, would likely be more complex. I would be willing to bet the data streams from each entity wouldn't be easily compatible in a unified display. Not that it has to be that way, but because of the way the complex was laid out and designed I would imagine no one thought that making the information data displays compatible for a unified display would even be a consideration.

But what you're asking for highlights another overall issue with the layout of the redesigned station: a cohesive approach to wayfinding, which is the term for information displays (usually signage of some sort, but often floor plans) that are designed to get people where they want to go. Somehow I think that the lack of attention to that detail is either consciously or subconsciously intentional in that we want the people to mill about and wander the station as much as possible because that' s the only way they will ever get to patronize all our vendors and see all the wonderful things they have to offer them. So the end result is that visitors to the complex are treated like cattle in a pasture: free to wander and graze until it's time for them to do something else. If they just have to be at some specific location at a particular point in time, well, that's not our concern.


Edited by RSG, 24 April 2017 - 12:30 AM.


#29 RSG

RSG

    OBS Chief

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 267 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:Rocky Mountains USA
  • Interests:Travel, rail travel, libraries, current events

Posted 24 April 2017 - 01:50 AM

Yes, I understand that RTD Commuter Rail services (Lines A, B, G) are physically separate from RTD Light Rail services (Lines C, E, W), with the bus tunnel sort of linking them. But why couldn't there be a large departure/train status display inside the traditional station building, large enough to be visible as you enter from the street, listing Amtrak and RTD Commuter Rail (Amtrak Train 5 on Track 5 and RTD A-Line to Airport on Track 2, or whatever)? And then add a line stating that Buses and Light Rail (or Lines C, E, W) can be accessed through the tunnel. Something like that would seem to go a long way to helping to bring together the disparate parts of the entire Union Station complex.

From what I have been reading in these posts, it seems the proprietor's of the "head house", don't want that...they don't even want to be associated with being a transportation hub, unless I am misinterpreting those posts.
Perhaps when the original redevelopment was written, Amtrak and RTD didn't get involved in this matter...now it may be too late....

If you've detected a claim of classism on the part of my posts, it's not inaccurate. That is pretty much what is going on, though no one is going to admit that, even under oath.

But the fact is that almost everyone with a stake in the eventual outcome had a seat at the table. The question is just how a seat mattered in the eventual outcome. RTD is the de facto owner of the facility, though management is farmed out. They were there from the beginning and yet in the final iteration, none of their services are integrated into the facility. (They would claim they are, because you can exit the true light rail platforms, walk a couple hundred feet into the entrance of the bus concourse, traverse the entirety and exit that right by the A-Line/Amtrak platforms and behind Union Station. Yet this is like saying that an airport-area hotel is 'connected' to the airport via a shuttle van.) But it's not surprising, since RTD has never been a visionary entity.

Another part is the overall mentality which exists. Back when the light rail expansion was presented to the Denver City Council, a now-former councilwoman expressed her delight with the proposal by exclaiming, "This will be great! Now people can read the latest Danielle Steele novel while getting from Point A to Point B!" That was what it meant to her. Not expanded economic development, not a way for people who might have otherwise limited options to get out of their neighborhoods, not a way to reduce the traffic on the streets and highways and thus address the continual air quality problem, but the best way to catch up on the latest bestselling romance genre without having to prop it up on your steering wheel during stop-and-go traffic.

So too, I imagine a similar mindset worked its way into the DUS redevelopment. After all the stakeholders made their pitches for their needs, the question came up of what to do with the interior of the station and then someone thought of getting various vendors together and then someone else thought of having a hotel inside and, as Jackie Gleason used to say, "Awayyyy we go!" I would guess that the idea of a destination venue became so appealing and magnetizing that it ended up consuming almost all of the planning, to the extent that the original purpose of the facility got lost and somewhat segregated in the process. I will have to pick the brains of my ColoRail contacts to find out if this is correct, but having been involved in a recent public works construction project myself, I can see where it's easy to get off-track of the original goals rather quickly based on the whims and desires of a few people with misguided vision and plenty of passion.

It sure wouldn't be the first time the Powers That Be got sucked up into someone else's fantasy. Among the fiascos which the Mile High City has found itself caught up in the past couple of decades is the Denver Grand Prix, an closed-track auto race hosted on the streets of downtown for a weekend. It went off largely as planned but fortunately the organizers ran out of money before they were able to pull it off a second year, yet not before sticking the City & County with part of the tab for infrastructure modifications and a return to normal operations. But apparently Denver was such a hotbed of racing interest and enthusiasm that it seemed like a very logical event to hold at the time. Or it was just another bold and rash idea everyone was afraid to say 'no' to for fear of being labeled as against creative events which happen to be bold and rash. So I imagine it came to be with Union Station---whatever was proposed was seen as visionary and a creative use of space. Time will only tell if it was an effective use of space.




0 user(s) are reading this topic

0 members, 0 guests, 0 anonymous users