If a string of approvals from the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA)and the Colorado Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) come through, the Regional Transportation District is optimistic that the G …
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The Regional Transportation District's University of Colorado A Line and B Line are in revenue service operations. According to Dave Genova, RTD general manager and CEO, both lines are exceeding ridership projections. For September 2018 the average weekday boardings on the A Line were 24,000 per day with B Line ridership at 2,200 average weekday riders.
Because of the demand on the A Line, RTD will be doubling train space on the A Line beginning in January by adding two additional cars to every train. Genova said this is coming a year earlier than anticipated.
If a string of approvals from the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA)and the Colorado Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) come through, the Regional Transportation District is optimistic that the G Line, which was completed in 2016, but has remained stuck in the testing phase with no opening date, could be open for business in the first few months of 2019.
That early 2019 opening day suggestion was included in an action plan RTD submitted to the FRA in response to a Nov. 15 letter, where the federal agency expressed concerns with RTD's A, B and G lines.
“We think the first quarter is possible and we're working toward that,” RTD General Manager and CEO Dave Genova said Dec. 18 at a press conference.
Genova also pointed out that there is no exact opening date because it is a “work in progress.”
Outgoing RTD Director Lorraine Anderson, who represents District L in Arvada, voiced skepticism over that timeline however.
“Even if everything works well and we have it fixed, it still has to go through the regulatory process, which in the past has been time consuming to say the least,” Anderson said. “I would be pleased if everything was fixed in the first quarter of the year… but we're talking about ghost trains in Olde Town. They go through and we have all the things happening to us, but none of the benefits of actual service.”
The G Line is part of Regional Transit District's 2004 voter-approved FasTracks plan to expand transit across the Denver metro region. It is an 11.2-mile electric commuter rail transit line that will connect Denver Union Station to Wheat Ridge, passing through northwest Denver, Adams County and Arvada. There are eight stations: Denver Union Station, 41st/Fox, Pecos, Federal, Gold Strike, Olde Town Arvada, Arvada Ridge and Ward Road.
The gate-crossing technology, which caused the hold-up on the line opening, is the same used along two additional lines originating in downtown Denver: the University of Colorado A Line, to Denver International Airport, and the commuter train B Line, to Westminster.
The A and B line have been operating on a special waiver since opening in 2016, as regulators continued to have concerns over crossing gates coming down too soon or staying down too long.
Currently testing trains run on the G Line from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. daily. RTD is in the process of applying for quiet zone status, allowing the train to not sound its horn at each rail crossing. to the annoyance of local residents and businesses in Wheat Ridge and Arvada.
RTD submitted its request to start establishing quiet zones at Jefferson County crossings on Nov. 16. A similar request was filed last week for Adams County crossings.
The A Line in undergoing a similar process to establish quiet zones as well.
In addition to establishing quiet zones, there are additional verifications and approvals that need to be made by both the FRA and the CPUC before the G Line can open to riders.
The FRA will need to look over the latest timing gate data from the G Line, and give its approval to start service. Next, RTD will need to amend the current A Line and B Line operation waiver to include the G Line as well. Additionally, the state regulators will also need to give approval to the G Line before service can start.
Genova acknowledged that the FRA made it clear in November that RTD's pending request will continue to be pending until the federal agency has had an opportunity to review the action plan submitted on Dec. 14.
“This was a lot of work and a lot of effort and a very collaborative process,” Genova said of the plan. “I'm confident we will work through that successfully.”
Genova and other RTD representatives traveled to Washington, D.C., the week of Dec. 20 to talk through the plan in person, though he said he has no speculation on timeline or the approval of plan from FRA.
“I think it's encouraging that we are going out to meet with them in person,” Genova said. “I'm not kidding when I say it's priority one for us to get the G Line open and quiet zones established.”
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