Rant: Light Rail Parking

People take the light rail for a variety of reasons, including wanting to avoid the hassle of trying to find parking downtown. Newsflash: The parking is just as bad at the light rail stations. If you live in the southwest metro area as I do, you need to be to the Mineral Station by 7 a.m. (at the very latest) to find a non-reserved spot. If you want to ensure you have a spot, first you have to get on the waiting list (it is backed up until April or May 2014 at the Mineral Station) and then pay an extra $42 a month for reserved parking. If people ditch the parking lot and decide to decipher the park ‘n’ ride bus system, they are a slave to a bus schedule that never seems to sync close enough to light rail departures and arrivals to avert an extra 25-minute wait.

Here’s a solution: Get rid of single-level parking lots. Many of the light rail stations already have multi-level garages, but some key locations do not. The Mineral Station currently holds 1,227 spaces—the third most behind I-25/Broadway (1,248) and Lincoln (1,734)—but it is spread out on street level. I get that parking garages are expensive, but with a waitlist more than six months long, it’s obvious that people are willing to pay extra not to drive into the city. The light rail runs to alleviate traffic on Denver’s main arteries. Let it do its job. Build more garages.

Rave: Humanity at a Light Rail Station

The recent violence at light rail stations is, well, unsettling. It is discomforting enough to make me want to carry some mace and travel in a group. But after a recent commute, I have reason to rethink that defensive strategy.

It happened on the pedestrian bridge connecting the Mineral Station to the park ‘n’ ride lot (see rant above). On an average morning commute, my light rail platform is packed full of professionals, students, and people. Normally, you must jog across the bridge so that the light rail doesn’t pull away as you reach the platform. On this particular morning, though, I was early and walked across the bridge with a few other commuters as an unkempt young man walked toward us. I could have tensed up, but he looked past me and extended his hand to man behind me dressed in fatigues. He thanked him for his service and wished him a good day. It was a simple gesture, but it was powerful.

Any public commuter will tell you that the array of personalities you encounter in a single trip to work is unlike anything you see (or, more aptly, don’t see) while commuting by car. Sometimes they are less than savory, but it’s a nice surprise when one person reaches out to a stranger and thanks them for the service they’re doing for us all. Good people are out there, but sometimes it takes looking past their exterior.

—Image courtesy of Shutterstock