“An international model” for transit-oriented development


Denver’s historic Union Station as seen from the train tracks behind the terminal. This area serves all of the commuter rail lines and Amtrak. An underground bus terminal—which serves regional and local buses—stretches about 700 feet from these tracks to the light rail station. (Image: IssacKim, Wikimedia)

In 2004, voters in the Denver area approved a sales tax increase to fund a regional, forward-looking investment in transit. Known as FasTracks, the investment has resulted in a plethora of transportation options today: multiple new light rail lines (and extensions to some existing lines), the introduction of commuter rail to the region, and express bus service to Boulder, CO and other communities north of Denver.

Sitting at the center of the region’s transit network is the historic Denver Union Station. As part of FasTracks, Union Station was redeveloped from a desolate building surrounded by surface parking lots into a vibrant, productive, public asset for the city. It’s “an international model for how you look at integrating transit with a truly dense, new neighborhood,” according to our guest this month on Building Better Communities with Transit.

Bill Sirois, Senior Manager for Transit-Oriented Communities with Denver’s Regional Transportation District (RTD), joins our podcast host Jeff Wood to talk about the success of the transit agency’s TOD program. The Union Station redevelopment—the unique funding, extensive planning, and successful execution—is the focus of the conversation. But Denver has done so much more. Bill also discusses the construction of over 38,000 housing units near transit since 2005, other interesting examples of TOD in the region, and what comes next as the current period of transit expansion comes to a close.

Building Better Communities with Transit is intended to provide more support to communities and local leaders who are working to catalyze new development around transit, give more people access to public transportation, increase access to opportunity, and build robust local economies. You can find this episode—and all of our previous episodes—on iTunes, Stitcher, or wherever you get your podcasts.

Recent TOD news

Here are a few things that have been happening this week with TOD projects across the country.