Should We Put More Money Towards Our Lightrail System?


Catherine Truong, Writer

Have you ever driven through the streets of Denver? If you have, you would understand the struggle with things like parking, traffic, and pedestrian safety. The chaos, most of the time, is overwhelming and often deters drivers from the downtown scene. The majority of the public strongly supports investment in public transportation.

There could be several reasons why investing more in the Colorado light rail system might be beneficial:

  1. Increased Accessibility: Improving the light rail system can provide better access to public transportation for more people, making it easier for them to travel to work, school, and other destinations.
  2. Reduced Traffic Congestion: An efficient light rail system can reduce traffic congestion on the roads and highways, leading to faster and more reliable travel times for commuters.
  3. Improved Air Quality: Investing in public transportation can help reduce air pollution from personal vehicles, leading to improved air quality in Colorado.
  4. Economic Development: A well-functioning light rail system can attract new businesses and investment to the areas served by the system, leading to economic growth and job creation.
  5. Sustainability: Public transportation, including light rail, is a more sustainable mode of transportation than personal vehicles, as it results in fewer greenhouse gas emissions and other pollutants.

These are just some of the potential benefits of investing in the Colorado light rail system. It’s important to weigh these against the costs of the investment and to consider other factors such as the availability of funding, the state of the current system, and the demand for public transportation in the area.

Let’s take a look at some of the work happening right now. In such a fast-growing population, Colorado traffic has gotten significantly worse in recent years. After all to Denver Business Journal, the Front Range is home to 85% of Colorado’s population and more than 90% of Colorado’s jobs.

It is commonly known that Colorado’s population is growing, which means more and more driving congestion. Ever tried driving I-25 at 4-5:00 pm? You would understand the nightmare that is traffic. Have hope, however, because the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) is working with agency partners to construct “a mobility hub network along I-25 to greatly improve access to bus services.” If we also combine this with a light rail system, there will be a multimodal system offering multiple transportation capabilities options. According to the Denver Business Journal, this helps to “diversify the transportation network,” which is especially helpful in the event of inclimate weather that often deters people from using the highway.

Although the Rail Passengers Association reveals that 78% of Americans want increased investments in rail systems, the process of getting there could stand in the way of rail systems coming to fruition.

For example, we face the problem that our populations across the nation are spread out over such a large area. So, accessing these rail systems might be too time costly or just inefficient in general. Additionally, our rail systems are mostly owned by private freight companies, meaning that there’s only so much funding that can do to directly help the system.

On your next trek downtown, consider taking the light rail system. It runs 365 days out of the year, and there are multiple stations across the entire state!

Several of our own Chatfield Chargers utilize the light rail. I know as an individual, driving long distances or in stressful environments–like Denver–gives me lots of anxiety, so it’s a lot easier to take the light rail! To my surprise, many of my other classmates frequently use the light rail for transportation to sporting events, concerts, downtown escapades, and shows. However, I was not surprised to hear that many also are scared of using the light rail simply because of things like not knowing stops, arrival times, and other random functions of the light rail. Nevertheless, we could all familiarize ourselves a little bit more with the light rail, and then maybe we can become more acquainted with features of Colorado we have not seen before!