The commute in Denver will undergo a drastic change this weekend when RTD’s A-Line finally opens. The route will run from Denver International Airport to Union Station downtown, opening a much needed alternative for those travelling to and from the Mile High City. Fares will cost $9 for a single one way ticket, half that if you are a senior, student, or disabled.
The much touted grand opening of the so-called “Train to the Plane” has been met with much fanfare, and most denizens of the city are thrilled about it. That isn’t to say everybody’s happy, but we’ll get to that in a moment. Even though it’s being run by RTD in conjunction with its Light Rail service, it differs in a few key ways.
The A-Line is closer to a traditional train than it’s lighter weight counterparts, and it will be much heavier, have a higher capacity, and will travel at higher speeds. It will also only make nine stops total, which will also help in making travel much quicker. It will be boarded from a more traditional platform rather than forcing people to climb stairs or board from sidewalks, making it easier — especially for those with disabilities, children, and the elderly — not to mention those who are carrying heavy loads like luggage.
But many are upset with the cost of the train, saying that $9 is far too much to pay for a ride. Disregarding the fact that this is by far a much cheaper option than others currently available, they instead argue that it should be more in line with what other cities pay. One wonders how these people can afford to fly at all if a $9 train ride is going to make or break their trip, but that’s none of our business. Not to mention that the project cost upwards of $1.2 billion and it needs to be paid for in some way.
Currently the only options for getting to the airport include driving, taking a taxi or ride sharing service, or the bus. Well, we suppose you could walk or take a jetpack or something, but those are flatly ridiculous. Each of those will cost much more than taking the train, with the exception of the bus, which will take nearly three times as long if you live in central Denver.
If you choose to drive to DIA and leave your car, parking can run you a minimum of $50 a week — more if you want to park anywhere near the airport itself. That doesn’t take into account gas, toll roads, and the general headache that is traffic heading east on I-70. An Uber or Lyft ride will cost you $35 on a good day, much more if you hit peak pricing. Taxis are about the same, but without the risk of a fare hike.
For the rest of Denver, however, the line opening is extremely welcome because the airport is so far from the city itself. No more will Denverites have to spend an hour and a half picking up their friend at the last minute, and traffic along the eastern corridor will certainly improve as well. Businesses, travelers, and residents all stand to benefit from the ripple effect the A-Line will have on the Metro Area.