Denver’s RTD Publishes 2011 Report on FasTracks

Every year Denver’s Regional Transportation District (RTD) publishes a report detailing ongoing rapid transit projects within the boundaries of the Denver Regional Council of Governments (DRCOG). RTD’s largest project is FasTracks, a multimodal, multi-billion dollar transit expansion program that aims to ultimately comprise of 122 miles of commuter rail transit (CRT) and light rail, 18 miles of bus rapid transit (BRT) and 21,000 new complementary parking spaces across eight counties.

When Denver-area voters approved FasTracks in 2004 the system was slated to cost $4.7 billion and be complete by 2017. RTD has been unable to finish FasTracks on budget or on time. The report notes that overall costs increased from $4.7 billion in 2004 up to approximately $7.4 billion in early 2012. All other things unchanged, the system won’t be done until 2042. So, what’s next?

Last week RTD published its 2011 Annual Report to DRCOG on FasTracks. For a detailed system-wide update by region, see the full report available online here. The report includes an RTD map with a comprehensive view of the system:

FasTracks Plan, Rapid Transit Lines

FasTracks Plan, Rapid Transit Lines

Source: Regional Transportation District, 2011 Annual Report to DRCOG on FasTracks, April 3, 2012.

While the system is large, the Northwest Corridor has been at the center of the conversation over the past six months. RTD is asking DRCOG to approve a new option that would double the original regional 0.4% sales and use tax along the Northwest Corridor to generate more revenue for FasTracks. This option would expedite portions of rail construction and provide intermediary BRT service until rail is complete. Ultimately RTD hopes to complete the Northwest Rail Line out to Longmont, and estimates they will initiate construction and begin revenue service between 2026-2032. If DRCOG approves this option, then RTD will begin the process of placing the initiative on the November 2012 ballot.

For more on FasTracks see my previous commentary, “Denver’s RTD Weighing Options for Northwest Corridor.”