RTD, Uber and Masabi recently launched Uber Transit ticketing, enabling Denver riders to be the first in the world to seamlessly buy tickets and ride transit – all from the Uber app. Following a staggered rollout all Uber riders in the Denver metro region will be able to buy RTD tickets through the Uber app and then use their phone to ride rail and bus services. This collaboration aligns with RTD’s plan to provide more integrated mobility options by working with leaders in the public and private sectors. As the transit agency celebrates its 50th anniversary, it is launching a comprehensive look at the entire RTD service network – including new and emerging mobility options – to determine the future transportation needs of the growing region. Purchasing transit tickets via Uber will cost the same amount as existing options. Transit ticketing has been enabled using Masabi’s Justride SDK, the first and only mobile ticketing software development kit (SDK) for public transportation, creating a seamless passenger experience combining transit and new mobility. Masabi first launched mobile ticketing services for RTD in the fall of 2017 with the popular RTD Mobile Tickets app.
RTD reports the popularity of the University of Colorado A Line has consistently exceeded projections, with the line carrying more than 20,000 weekday passengers. Ridership has grown steadily, and in January of this year, RTD introduced four-car trains, doubling capacity on the rail line to accommodate the increasing volume of passengers.
RTD reports that quiet zones were established so that the trains that travel the corridor don’t have to routinely blow their horns at crossings. Well, you’ve probably noticed that the quiet zones aren’t always quiet. That’s because there are several reasons why train operators must sound the train horns based on federal regulations that require additional safety precautions in certain circumstances. But we know this can be a real pain – especially early in the morning or late at night. RTD and Denver Transit Partners (DTP) will host two events, “Why the bleeping horns?” This will be a chance for us to provide information about quiet zones and give you a chance to ask us questions. Please join us for one of the following gatherings to talk quiet zones and safety:
Open House – Monday, June 24 6-7:30 PM, Central Park Recreational Center, 9651 Martin Luther King Blvd.
Pancake Breakfast – Quiet zones and safety tips on how to stay safe around buses and trains – Saturday, July 27 9-11 AM – Denver Health and Human Services parking lot – 3815 Steele St.
Denver City Council Member Kendra Black reports the City and County of Denver is collaborating with the Regional Transportation District (RTD) and Denver Public Schools to launch “On MY Way!”, a summer pilot program that provides transit fares to youth through RTD’s new Mobile Tickets app. Between June 1 and August 31, young riders will be able to travel locally or regionally by accessing the passes through the RTD app on their cell phones. To participate in the “On MY Way!” youth summer transportation program, youth must be between the ages of 12-18, have a MY Denver Card and complete a short online survey.
Denver City Council Member Paul Kashmann reports among the 125 miles of bike lanes to be constructed in the next five years is a “high-comfort” lane proposed for Marion Street Parkway from Downing Street/Bayaud Avenue to Virginia Avenue. Denver Public Works is considering a variety of alignments and treatments to create a bikeway that is comfortable for riders of all ages and skill levels. For information, visit
Mass Transit Reports that Via Mobility Services, a nonprofit that contracts with the city of Boulder, Regional Transportation District and others to provide a range of services, wants to electrify more of its fleet. Bruno said Via decided to make the No.15 Hop electric after connecting at a conference with Lightning Systems, a Loveland company that designs and manufactures all-electric power trains for medium- and heavy-duty vehicles. “We love it. We’d love to have a bunch of them,” Bruno said of the bus. Gov. Jared Polis’ administration would like to see more electric buses, delivery trucks and vans on Colorado roads, too. Polis signed an executive order in January reaffirming the state’s commitment to increase the number of electric vehicles and expand the network of charging stations across the state.
Car ownership is likely to become a thing of the past – and so could public transport
In general, areas have to reach a certain level of density to make public transport economically viable – there have to be enough people using a service to make it worth running. This is easily done in big cities, but harder to achieve in small or mid-sized ones. Autonomous cars could help by giving more people a quick and convenient way of getting to or from a station.
But if people had the choice, they would probably take the same car all the way to their destination. As the capacities of autonomous car networks expand in the future, it raises big questions over the value of planned investments in fixed point-to-point transport such as trains, buses and metros. Even transport between cities could eventually be affected as the range of these networks grow.
Driverless cars are going to disrupt the airline industry
Imagine someone who lives in Atlanta and needs to travel to Washington, D.C., for business. This is about a 10-hour drive. A flight takes about two hours, assuming no delays. Add to that the drive to the airport, checking in, the security line and waiting at the gate. Upon arrival in D.C., it may take another 30 minutes to pick up any checked bags and find a rental car – and even more time to drive to the specific destination. The average person would estimate a total travel time of four to five fours. Most people would choose to fly instead of driving themselves.
However, if they could have a fully driverless car take them there, the choice changes. Passengers could eat, drink, work and sleep during the 10-hour drive. They could leave whenever they want, and pack whatever they want – including liquids and pocketknives – with no searches or scans. When they get to D.C., they wouldn’t have to find a rental car and navigate to the actual place they’re going.
Electric air taxi startup Lilium completes first test of its new five-seater aircraft
German air taxi startup Lilium announced the first test of its full-scale, all-electric five-seater aircraft. It was the latest in a series of successful tests for the nascent electric flight industry, which aims to have “flying cars” whizzing above cities within the next decade.
In a video provided by the Munich-based company, Lilium’s unpiloted aircraft can be seen taking off vertically like a helicopter, hovering briefly, and then landing. It may not seem like much, but it’s a big step for the company, which hopes to launch a fully operational flying taxi service in multiple cities by 2025.
In April during the 2019 Housing Forum, Mayor Michael B. Hancock announced the formation of a new Department of Housing and Homelessness for the City and County of Denver. This reorganization will better align city strategies and resources to address housing challenges across the entire housing continuum, from the most vulnerable people experiencing homelessness to helping homeowners stay in their homes. The new department will combine the work of Denver Economic Development & Opportunity’s (DEDO) Housing Division and Denver’s Road Home, formerly housed in Denver Human Services, into a new, stand-alone agency under the leadership of Chief Housing Officer Britta Fisher. The Mayor also announced a new $15.7 million initiative to address homelessness through day shelters and bridge housing or similar tools. The Anschutz Foundation, the Downtown Denver Partnership, and the Colorado Health Foundation have all committed as partners, with $3.2 million to date. The balance of this new fund will be raised from other philanthropic donors, private business and the public. Acting as fiscal agent, the Mile High United Way is accepting donations from the public.
Lowry Community Master Association reports that ground has been broken on the major commercial space of the Boulevard One at Lowry development, at the corner of Lowry Boulevard and Pontiac Street. The biggest anchor business will be a 25,000 square foot Lucky’s Market, an organic-focused supermarket chain based in Boulder. A Logan House Coffee Company is also slated to join the center. The project is scheduled for completion in late 2020. Kelmore Development, in collaboration with Confluent Development, is planning a mixed-use area at the northwest corner of East Lowry Boulevard and Pontiac Street. The five-acre site will contain up to 140,000 square feet of commercial space designed by Norris Design and Open Studio Architecture.
Denver City Council Member Paul Kashmann reports a new University of Denver dormitory/student union is under construction at Evans Avenue and High Street that will house 500 freshman students, providing more room for upper class students in existing on-campus dorm facilities. Many more changes will unfold in coming years. DU is positioning itself as a top-shelf 21st century university.
As currently scheduled, in early 2020, the eastern part of Kashmann’s District 6 will begin a neighborhood planning initiative for Denver’s “near southeast” area which includes the Virginia Vale, Virginia Village, Indian Creek and Goldsmith (south of Evans Avenue in District 4) communities. The NPI program, begun in 2017, is designed to generate critical small area plans for our entire city as expeditiously as possible. These are the documents that take the broad principles in the Comprehensive Plan and Blueprint Denver mentioned above, and tailors them to properly guide development on a local level. To see when your neighborhood is slated for NPI attention, visit:
The revitalized Virginia Village/Ellis Community Association will also have their hands full to assess whatever formal plans ultimately emerge for the former Colorado Department of Transportation Properties at 2000 S. Holly St. and 4201 E. Arkansas Ave. Kashmann expects the developer to come forth with a request for Tax Increment Financing relief in the coming weeks related to the Arkansas project. Look for the developer to announce a public meeting in the near future.
A Verizon cell-phone tower proposal that surprised Virginia Village neighbors points out the need to revamp our community notification system for major projects. While it appears details of our existing policies were followed to the letter – if not the spirit – of the law, Kashmann has begun discussions with Community Planning and Development staff to improve our snail-mail and email notifications and sign postings so such projects never again slide under the public radar without the community having an opportunity to register their concerns.
As the Elevate Denver bond program moves into its second year, significant progress continues to be made toward delivering the more than 500 projects approved by Denver voters. In 2018, the bond program issued $193 million in funding to complete the design of initial projects — enabling them to move quickly into construction upon the next issuance, which is expected later in 2019. As Elevate Denver advances the delivery of the voter-approved projects, this means that significant design efforts and other critical pre-construction activities will become more prevalent. Early 2019 will bring the first sidewalk paving projects and will bring forth construction management services contracts for several library and swimming pool projects. At the Denver Zoo, Elevate Denver funding will support the construction of a new animal hospital to replace the current hospital that is nearly 50 years old and has not been meaningfully updated since 1981. The Zoo cares for more than 4,000 animals and is the most visited cultural institution in the entire state of Colorado, receiving more than two million guests annually. Construction of a new animal hospital will enhance this vital cultural institution and ensure that its animals have access to the highest level of care possible.
REAL ESTATE AND MOBILITY
Denver City Council Member Kendra Black reports that from May 24 – Sept 2, the outdoor plaza at Denver International Airport, near the Westin Hotel, will transform into a park that will give travelers and community members a refreshing, unexpected airport experience. The park will include gardens featuring native Colorado trees, plants and lounge seating. DEN will host fun events, such as live music, mini golf, lunchtime fitness classes and family activities, in the park throughout the summer.
eScooters and Commerical Real Estate
eScooters are rolling through 150 American cities, making commuting more efficient — and fun — for riders. But safety concerns, regulations and profitability are still open questions. Consumer adoption and usability will ultimately answer these questions.
Garages – the new affordable houses?
Could living in a converted garage be an answer? Maybe. In parts of the United States, a lack of affordable housing means garage conversions are taking off. In car-centric Los Angeles, for example, 117 garage conversion permits were issued to residents in 2016 – but in 2018, thanks to a change in the law, that number rocketed to 4,171.
Q&A: How Walkable Urbanism Is Changing CRE
As a developer, I know going into a deal―and I have done about 15 deals that are walkable urban downtown, including in Albuquerque, N.M.; Seaside, Fla.; and Kirkland, Wash. ―you must have a much higher percentage of your capital stack be equity, and a good chunk of that equity needs to be patient equity. It cannot be hot 25 to 35 percent IRR equity.
The thing about walkable urban development is―like real estate for centuries―it is a 40-year asset class. That’s why the IRS lets us depreciate real estate over 39 years. But during the driveable suburban era of the late 20th century, our financing, IRRs and discounted cash flow were all predicated on a three- to five-year return of equity. That’s not consistent with a 40-year asset class. So you’re seeing in commercial real estate a lot more all-equity deals being done—certainly to the sovereign wealth funds and to real estate investment trusts. REITs are a remarkably consistent way of investing for walkable urban development and that 40-year perspective on real estate.
A Modest Proposal to Eliminate 11,000 Urban Parking Spots
How can the city get away with it? Put simply, Amsterdam’s government has been given a mandate to. The city is currently being run by a coalition of left and centrist parties in which the Green Left party (GroenLinks) has the largest share. A promise to reduce parking space formed part of the initial coalition agreement. It also helps that no driver will actually be stripped of the right to park. Rather than revoking permits, the city will simply not replace any that are given up when drivers leave the city, give up their cars, or die. In this way, the city reckons it can naturally do away with about 1,100 permits a year.