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RTD's best practices compiled into resource everyone can use

This entry is the first in a series of RTD Best Practices blog posts. Over the past year, RTD has been developing a compendium of best practices – initiatives that have helped make RTD one of the nation’s most innovative transit agencies. We will be featuring some of the most groundbreaking best practices on this blog in the coming months. See the full best practices report here.

When FasTracks passed in 2004, the official FasTracks Plan outlined three core goals for the rapid transit expansion program:

  1. Provide improved transportation choices and options to the citizens of the District
  2. Increase transit mode share during peak travel times
  3. Establish a proactive plan that balances transit needs with future regional growth

How does RTD know whether FasTracks is meeting those goals?

While there is no way to know for sure – many variables can affect a region – RTD has an ongoing Quality of Life (QoL) Study to objectively measure changes happening within RTD’s region as FasTracks is planned, constructed, and opened for service.

The QoL study tracks and analyzes changes at three geographic levels:

  1. Regionally
  2. Corridor
  3. Station

The study focuses on “quality of life” in the context of mobility, the environment, economic development and land use.

The Planning Department produces a short, annual QoL report each year and a comprehensive report every three to five years. The 2013 Quality of Life High Level Measures Report is the eighth report and was published in March 2015.

The reports are organized around the three FasTracks Plan goals (listed above). From these goals, objectives, indicators and measures were created to guide the data collection and reporting for the study. Click on each graphic to see a large version.

proactive-plan-graphic

improve-transportation-choices-and-options-graphic

For example, one measure of improving transportation choices and options is corridor travel times. The study looks at both auto and transit travel times from existing transit end-of-line stations to downtown Denver in the morning peak period. The study is finding that increasing roadway congestion coupled with fixed-guideway transit implementation is leading to faster transit travel times while auto travel times have worsened in recent years.

am-peak-period-travel-times-graphic

Percentages of regional destinations served by high-frequency transit are measured in order to showcase how transit offers accessibility to places RTD customers need to go.

The high-frequency transit service area is defined as one-half mile around rapid transit stations and one-quarter mile around bus stops for routes offering 15-minute or better frequencies in the peak periods and midday.

In 2006, before the opening of the Southeast Rail Line, RTD served 25% of regional destinations. In 2013, that number increased to 31% after the opening of the West Rail Line.