Whether we are at a community event or town halls, one of the most frequent questions we are asked is surrounding FasTracks and the completion of the Northwest Rail service. From when construction will begin, service offerings and station locations, the Northwest Rail remains on the minds of residents and employees throughout the northwest metro region.
For over the past year, Commuting Solutions has been working closely with the US 36 Mayors & Commissioners Coalition and the Regional Transportation District (RTD) to evaluate service possibilities for the remaining 38 miles between Westminster and Longmont. RTD still does not have the fiscal resources to prioritize completion of Northwest Rail for quite some time as defined in its full buildout; however, our local elected officials asked RTD to explore the ridership and costs to construct and operate peak hour service only, as a means of beginning the service with a much simpler implementation plan.
Evaluating Our Options
After careful review and consideration of three implementation options, coordination with RTD and local elected officials, we support continued evaluation of an option that would provide three trips from Longmont to Denver in the morning and three trips from Denver to Longmont in the evening. The service would include seven station locations throughout the region including: Boulder, Louisville, Broomfield, Westminster, and Longmont. Current models estimate that this trip would take roughly 67 minutes of travel time one way from Longmont to Denver, and have an average weekday ridership of 1,400 additional passengers.
Commuting Solutions and the US 36 Mayors & Commissioners Coalition are interested to explore this option to potentially enable initial commuter rail access sooner rather than later, pending funding availability.
Keeping Progress Moving
Earlier this month, the US 36 Mayors & Commissioners Coalition and Commuting Solutions shared a letter of support for RTD to continue the evaluation of this peak service alternative. We also urged RTD to continue conversations with our local government partners and if necessary, request that BNSF provide an estimate of the potential cost to implement Northwest Rail peak hour service on its rail line.
At Commuting Solutions, we know from experience that transportation projects of this scale are transformative and deserve special scrutiny in this time of limited resources. We want to reassure community members that we are working closely with our partners to keep progress moving forward for RTD FasTracks completion.