RTD to spend $1.5 million to improve the alternative to the Mall shuttle, study bike lanes

The Free MetroRide has been running for about four years and RTD now is considering expanding it beyond the morning and evening rush periods.

Electric trolley buses drive 16th Street circa 1940s. (Denver Public Library/Western History Collection/X-23364)
Electric trolley buses drive 16th Street circa 1940s. (Denver Public Library/Western History Collection/X-23364)
Electric trolley buses drive 16th Street circa 1940s. (Denver Public Library/Western History Collection/X-23364)

The Regional Transportation District is putting up $1.5 million toward improvements to the Free MetroRide, a weekday bus that will take you from the Union Station bus concourse down to Civic Center while avoiding the 16th Street Mall.

Working with RTD, the city of Denver will study and potentially change the layout of curbs on the bus route, the timing of traffic signals and the overall operations of the bus, which runs on 18th and 19th streets.

The project also will examine whether the city could install protected bike lanes on both 18th and 19th streets, according to public works spokeswoman Nancy Kuhn. Currently, there is only bike protection near the bus stops at 18th Street, she said.

The bus has been running for about four years and RTD now is considering expanding it beyond the morning and evening rush periods.

“It’s designed to be a reliever of traffic off the Mall shuttle,” Currey said. “Right now, they’re actually looking at upping the frequency of it and possibly running it throughout the day.”

A map of the Free MetroRide bus route.
A map of the Free MetroRide bus route.

The project could improve travel times and reliability, according to city documentation. Since it doesn’t run along the Mall, the MetroRide can be caught up by traffic. The plan goes up for a vote before a city committee next week.

Frankly, I didn’t even know this thing existed. No more million-stop rides on the Mall for me – although I do love the Mall so much that I made our team spend like 12 hours on it.

This could prove helpful for a lot of people –as I was surprised to learn during that project, many, many people use the Mall as a connector between the two areas on either end of it. In fact, that’s what it was originally meant to do, as its designer told me.

Andrew Kenney

Author: Andrew Kenney

Andrew Kenney writes about public spaces, Denver phenomena and whatever else. He previously worked for six years as a reporter at The News & Observer in Raleigh, N.C. His most prized possession is his collection of bizarre voicemail. Leave him one at 303-502-2803, or email akenney@denverite.com.