Smart city technology meets TOD


Peña Station Next, located along Denver’s commuter rail line, is part of a 400-acre smart city testing ground and future TOD community. (Photo credit: Peña Station Next)

Denver combines smart city technology with transit-oriented development

Denver RTD opened its first commuter rail line in April 2016, connecting Union Station to the Denver International Airport. The electric-powered line was constructed through a public-private partnership, funded in part through the FTA’s New Starts program. The partnership also included a provision for two new stations to be constructed by private parties in agreement with the City of Denver.

One of those stations, Peña, was constructed by Panasonic Enterprise Solutions as part of a 400-acre smart city program called Peña Station Next to test new smart cities technologies like connected internet of things (IOT) devices, solar power and renewable energy, autonomous vehicles, and other technologies.

The previously undeveloped exurban site allows the private sector to experiment with new technology in an expanded setting, which will help the city decide what parts are worth scaling up and expanding to other parts of the city — or even other TOD sites. That will include a partnership with EasyMile to operate driverless buses in the district to expand the reach of RTD’s commuter line to more people. The French company will also open its U.S. headquarters on site this fall.

The final piece will be housing and commercial development near the station. A 219-unit apartment complex is planned and developers are working on attracting tenants for other planned buildings. Denver has found an interesting way to test out scores of new technologies that will influence the future of urban and transit-oriented development.

Relatedly, Denver and two of their outlying cities are participating in the Smart Cities Collaborative, a project of our Transportation for America program, intended to help cities approach these new technologies thoughtfully. T4America wrote about a pilot project in one of those cities intended to expand the reach of transit by partnering with Uber to evolve the city’s limited circulator shuttle into a more flexible on-demand transit option that will connect more people to a RTD light rail station.

Recent TOD news

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