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The Train to the Plane: Why I Love the A Line Warts and All

Every day Kyle Clark asks the following question about the A Train…is it working? And, it each day it feels like a crap shoot. But, I remember the whole debacle with the opening of Denver International Airport. They used to call it Dead in the Air because it took forever to open and it kept experiencing delays.

People love DIA now.

I’ve taken the A Line several times to the airport and I absolutely love how it connects the city of Denver to the airport. It’s the beginning of a rebranding of the city of Denver with the rest of the country, and yes, the world as a world-class city.

The Issues

There is a problem with the timers for the gates. This is a huge issue and it does baffle me that the light rail system runs so well in terms of being on time but that the A Line is still experiencing these issues.

If history is any indication the public will forget the initial problems that the train has had in the long run: unless they were part of that group of people who had to walk on the tracks last year.

What do you think about the A Line? What has your experience been?

 

 

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The Ultimate Transit Guide: Denver and Boulder

Let’s be honest, transit in Colorado has been more miss than hit for many years. There are many reasons for this primarily the fact that we love our cars and are a gas producing state. There really weren’t a lot of incentives for people to use public transit in past years. Fortunately, things have changed and I’m happy to report that public transit has become a major part of growing the Denver/Boulder corridor. If you are: a tourist, just arrived, or just not into cars this guide will give you some ideas on how to approach living in the Denver/Boulder Metro region without a car.

Types of Transit

Currently we have several different types of transit available to residents. These include the following:

  • Bus (RTD)-Denver’s major transit hub is located in Union Station
  • The Light Rail-The major transit hub is located at Union Station. The other main stop for the Light Rail in Downtown Denver is located on 16th and Stout going South or 16th and California going North.
  • Bustang-Located in Union Station
  • Fast Tracks* April 22, 2016
  • Uber/Lyft
  • Car Share Programs-Car2Go/Zipcar
  • Taxi

Logistics

Before you use any of these services make sure to take the time to understand how the services work. Also, when you take the bus you must have exact change-the bus driver will not be able to make change for you!

Bus Fares

I will say this again-you must have EXACT CHANGE. Or, if you’re at a light rail station or at Union Station you may have the option to use your credit or debit card but I would still strongly recommend having cash on you just in case oh and EXACT CHANGE LOL!

  • $2.60 One way if you pay for the fare on the bus make sure to request a transfer which will enable you to take another bus typically going in a different direction. *The light rail is $2.60 one way but you won’t be able to get a transfer.
  • $5.20-Day pass! Awesome fare. If you are taking the bus and hoping on to the light rail taking a minimum of 3 trips in one day this is the absolute best price and value. When they say Day Pass they mean DAY PASS for the entire day which is pretty awesome.
  • $9-Regional Day Pass-If you are in Denver and would like to go to Boulder for a day trip. Or, Boulder to Denver this is what you will end up paying. This is also the price for the fare when you’re taking the Fast Tracks train to Denver International Airport

Bus

The bus is super easy to take but I wanted to share some tips and tricks so that you look like a pro when you take the bus. The bus runs throughout the Denver/Boulder metro region but depending on where you’re going you may or may not get frequent service. The main transit hub in Denver is located at Union Station. In Boulder the main transit hub is located at 14th and Walnut one bloc from the Pearl Street pedestrian mall.

  • Local Service-Are the buses that originate in the city centers of Denver and Boulder and travel within those cities. For example, if you are in Boulder and catch a bus that only runs in the city of Boulder that is considered local service.The light rail is considered local within the first 2 transit zones.
  • Regional Service-Travel from Denver to Boulder or one way via Sky Ride Bus (Sky Ride service ends the end of April 2016 when Fast Tracks Starts-the train to DIA) Also, regional service covers all three light rail zones. If you take the bus from Denver to Boulder that is considered a regional fare/trip.
    • The Flatiron Flyer is a regional bus that runs pretty frequently between Denver and Boulder. The ride frequency increased in 2016 and it’s a fantastic and long overdue change.
  • Going to the Mountains-If you would like to go to the mountains using public transportation please click HERE for more information.
  • Towns You Can Visit From Denver-Fort Collins, Colorado Springs, Frisco, Breckenridge, Vail, Nederland. Please refer to the Going to the Mountains post.

 

Light Rail

I love taking the light rail. My only pet peeve (or pet hate if you’re English) is that people putting their nasty a@@ feet on the seats like they are at their house. Ahem. Let me focus. Other than that-I love the light rail. It’s super easy to use and pretty quick. I will say that occasionally people get hit by the light rail or a car does so make sure that doesn’t happen to you. The light rail will always win.

Pay your fare! There are security personal/fare checkers who will check that you have the fare. People are pretty good about paying their fare.

You can purchase a ticket using cash or credit at any light rail station.

Denver:  Free Mall Shuttle 

There are two types of free mall shuttles that transport people in Downtown Denver. The first is…ahem..the Free Mall Shuttle. It is a white shuttle that goes up and down the 16th Street Mall running during peak hours almost every 2-5 minutes. You can hop on the Free Mall Shuttle from Union Station and then basically every block from Union Station to Civic Center Station*  I should mention that at this point Civic Center Station is like the Red Headed Stepchild. I would not recommend lingering there if it is your final destination. City Council and RTD are currently working on plans to upgrade Civic Center. The upgrade is long overdue-just don’t say I didn’t warn you.

Free Metro Ride

Runs along 18th and 19th streets and I think that these two services are great for people who have kids, are wheelchair-bound, etc. The Free Metro Ride is a long green bus that you can catch from Union Station or just outside of Civic Center Station (CCS). If you’re at CCS at aren’t sure where to catch it just ask the information booth person or one of the bus drivers. The Free Metro Ride runs during the peak hours of: 6:00 a.m.-9:00 a.m. or 3:30 p.m.-6:30 p.m.

Pedi Cabs and Tuk Tuks (Denver)

You will see a ton of pedi cabs-people riding bikes with seats attached to them. They typically run on 16th Street and then to the Pepsi Center/Coors Field/basically the city center. Tip your pedi cab “driver” well!

Tuk Tuks are mini electric cars that typically are found in Asia. Well, we have them too. Etuk Denver operates in Downtown Denver. Click HERE for more information.

The Hop (Boulder)

Is a mini white bus that runs in a circle clockwise/counter clock wise around Boulder. The Hop stops are indicated by a white circle with a Bunny on it. Be careful in Boulder because they also have: The Skip, Leap, Jump, and Long Jump. The hop runs frequently throughout the day. Please note: schedules are affected by the University’s schedule. If you are visiting during the summer the schedule will not be as frequent.

 

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How to Get To The Mountains From Denver

It is not as easy as you would think to get the mountains from Denver. It’s kind of annoying because there are  a lot of people who don’t have access to transportation who would enjoy an epic day in the mountains. Fortunately, it has gotten so much better than before and I thought I would share some of the options you can explore…to get up to the mountains to-ahem-explore!

How to Get to the Mountains 

Is a surprisingly annoyingly process if you don’t know the ins and outs of mountain travel…without a car. If you are a tourist, a student, a person living a car-free lifestyle, or newly arrived to Colorado-you can enjoy the mountains without a car. You just need to have some information and a plan.  In this post I share a number of options that will get you to the mountains easily and affordably and without a ton of hassle.

Carpool

Ok, no list would be complete without this option. If you are living in Colorado you typically will have at least one friend who is up for going to the mountains a couple of times a month. Typical carpool rules apply: pay for gas, buy your person some lunch, and of course be on time.

Denver Parks and Recreation Events

I am embarrassed to admit that I just discovered that the Recreation center offers trips to the mountains. They are day trips where you can go hiking (Summer/Fall) or snowshoeing (Winter). The Denver Recreation Center also has a shockingly affordable kids’ ski program which includes: transportation, lift tickets, and equipment. Kids are currently taken to Winter Park for lessons and the cost? Thirty Freaking bucks!!! That’s it. I was SHOCKED at how affordable it was.  Click HERE for information on all of these programs.

Meetup.com

There are TONS of Meetup groups in Colorado centered around doing outdoor activities in the mountains. It is very, very unusual to find a group that does not have a carpool option. The only tricky part is that a lot of these trips will meet at the Wooly Mammoth Park n Ride which is basically impossible to get to without a car depending on the time that the Meetup is happening. If you decide to participate in a Meetup that’s going to the mountains ask the leader if it’s possible to be picked up at a alternative location.

Greyhound

I’ve taken the Greyhound to the mountains before and to Las Vegas so I can say that both trips were…memorable. Fortunately, if you take the Greyhound it will take less than 2 hours to get Frisco Bus station and then take the free bus to:

  • Breckenridge-Also has a free shuttle as well. Here is the link. If you are heading towards the Bivvi Hostel take the brown line. Breckenridge happens to be one of my favorite mountain towns as well.
  • Copper Mountain-Ski Resort 
  •  A Basin (Arapahoe Basin)-Ski Resort 

The free Summit Stage Shuttle runs pretty frequently and is comfortable to ride. If you’re bringing ski equipment the buses are equipped for that as well.  I will admit that out of the bus options the Greyhound isn’t my favorite but what it does have in its favor is the fact that it runs throughout the day. Basically, you’re able to arrive at a decent time and navigate your way to which ever ski resort you’re hoping to get to.

Bustang

Ok, I’m in love with Bustang. Maybe it’s the name? The purple and black color or the cool Mustang decal? Whatever the case, I am so happy to have this additional bus service added to the Front Range. The great thing about Bustang is that it serves the following communities:

  • Eagle
  • Frisco
  • Vail
  • Colorado Springs
  • Fort Collins

The only negatives that I can think of with Bustang is that I find the schedule to be a bit…weird. It runs on a commuting hours schedule. So, you will get service early in the morning and later in the afternoon…but nothing in between. If you take the Bustang it’s the type of service that you should take when you want to spend some time in the place that you’re going.

Amtrak-California Zephyr

The Zephyr is the specific train that has a route running West from Denver’s Union Station to San Francisco. You can also take it going East to Chicago. I’ve taken the train going to Chicago and it’s truly a fantastic experience if you have time and a blanket. This train stops at Glenwood Springs which is a gorgeous mountain town with an olympic sized  hot spring pool. Everyone should take the Zephyr (or similar train) across the country at least once!

Fresh Tracks Transportation

This is a great service to use from Denver International Airport. I have also used this service when a group of my friends flew in from Europe. We met at the airport and then took the shuttle to Breckenridge. The driver was professional, drove safely, and funny. I never felt nervous or concerned about the quality of the driving. If you are in Denver and don’t have a car this is an option for you. When you make the reservation you can just mark that you don’t have a flight.

The great thing with this service is the direct drop offs at which hotel or hostel you will be staying at. If you’re not confident about getting yourself around or have a lot of luggage with you this more than makes up for the cost.

The only negative with this service is the following : you have to go to the airport and this type of shuttle is more expensive than the bus. One great thing is that’s happened is Fast Tracks-the train that will go directly from downtown Denver to DIA. It costs $9 and will take about 45 minutes to get to the airport.  Click HERE for reservation information.

The N Bus to Nederland (from Boulder)

I grew up in Boulder and sometimes you just want to get away and not go all the way to Frisco or Vail. If you go to Nederland it has fairly frequent service from Boulder and the cost is around $5. The N Bus also ends at Eldora Ski Resort which has really nice steep runs but can be a little bit windy.

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