Tyler A. Green

In Transit

Month: April 2016

Denver’s A Line Opens with Fanfare

Friday was a celebration worthy of Duke Ellington and John Hickenlooper. “Take the ‘A’ Train” was finally a meaningful phrase for the Denver metro area! Unfortunately, only one of them could make an appearance, while the other’s legacy lives on.  Relive the opening of the RTD University of Colorado A Line with my photo journey below!

The first bus route of the day: Transfort's FLEX from downtown Fort Collins to Boulder. My friend Austin joined me four stops later and we were on our way!

The first bus route of the day: Transfort’s FLEX from downtown Fort Collins to Boulder. My friend Austin joined me four stops later and we were on our way!

Boulder BCycle bike share bikes outside the Downtown Boulder Center. BCycle is the same provider as Denver's bike share, while Fort Collins recently opened with Zagster.

Boulder BCycle bike share bikes sit outside the Downtown Boulder Station. BCycle is also the operator of Denver’s bike share, while Fort Collins’ recently opened with Zagster.

The bus arrival board in Downtown Boulder Station was quite comprehensive, and similar to the one's found in Union Station.

The bus arrival board in Downtown Boulder Station was quite comprehensive, and similar to the ones found in Union Station.

Our second bus of the day: RTD AB from Downtown Boulder Station to DIA! I had not expected a coach-style bus. The driver was initially confused that we wanted return transfer slips. Apparently not many people taking the airport bus return same day! Obviously, they hadn't met transit enthusiasts like us yet.

Our second bus of the day: RTD AB from Downtown Boulder Station to DIA! I had not expected a coach-style bus. The driver was initially confused that we wanted return transfer slips. Apparently not many people taking the airport bus return same day! Obviously, they hadn’t met transit enthusiasts like us yet.

Our first look of 'Denver Airport' station on the new RTD A line! This was taken from the overlook just below the lobby of the new Westin at DIA.

Our first look of ‘Denver Airport’ station on the new RTD A line! This was taken from the overlook just below the lobby of the new Westin at DIA.

The lobby of the Westin reminded me of iconic jet age images, many lost with the destruction of the Pan Am Worldport. One bank of windows overlooks the A line, while the other looks across a pavilion outside the Jeppesen Terminal.

The lobby of the Westin reminded me of iconic jet age images, many lost with the destruction of the Pan Am Worldport. One bank of windows overlooks the A line, while the other looks across a pavilion outside the Jeppesen Terminal.

Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper speaks at the opening for the Regional Transportation District University of Colorado A Line at Denver International Airport on Friday, April 22, 2016. Did I do the AP caption style correctly? Anyway, I should have put the over/under on the number of speakers at 9.5. And taken the over. Except for the protesters up in arms over the $9 fare that began shouting midway through the ceremony, everything went as expected.

Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper speaks at the opening for the Regional Transportation District University of Colorado A Line at Denver International Airport on Friday, April 22, 2016. Did I do the AP caption style correctly? Anyway, I should have put the over/under on the number of speakers at 9.5. And taken the over. Except for the protesters up in arms over the $9 fare that began shouting midway through the ceremony, everything went as expected.

After the ceremony, the public lined up at the "BOARD TRAINS HERE" sign backed by the baby blue branding <a style="display: inline;" href="https://twitter.com/greent_tyler/status/724050085437300737" target="_blank">found everywhere</a> for the #TrainToThePlane. A media run of the train had taken place earlier that morning, so they did not mingle in line with us plebs. While we waited, a band played Duke Ellington's "Take the 'A' Train."

After the ceremony, the public lined up at the “BOARD TRAINS HERE” sign backed by the baby blue branding found everywhere for the #TrainToThePlane. A media run of the train had taken place earlier that morning, so they did not mingle in line with us plebs. While we waited, a band played Duke Ellington’s “Take the ‘A’ Train.”

The five-story escalator from the Westin pavilion to the A line station is the longest in Colorado. And it has art! The visualizations on the back wall were projected out of the fake rocks on the wall. #TheFutureIsHere

The five-story escalator from the Westin pavilion to the A line station is the longest in Colorado. And it has art! The visualizations on the back wall were projected out of the fake rocks on the wall. #TheFutureIsHere

The public makes its way to the first ride on the A line!

The public makes its way to the first ride on the A line!

A portrait to go down in transit lore. If I had been clever in the moment, upon seeing the University of Colorado graphics on the side of the train, I would have said, "That's a wrap!"

A portrait to go down in transit lore. If I had been clever in the moment, upon seeing the University of Colorado graphics on the side of the train, I would have said, “That’s a wrap!”

I wasn't kidding about the baby blue. It was everywhere. We boarded this car!

I wasn’t kidding about the baby blue. It was everywhere. We boarded this car!

The inside of the commuter rail vehicle was immaculate! It had that new train smell. I was taken aback by the imbalanced seating and had to make sure we hadn't accidentally boarded a plane. The vehicles have a top speed of 79 MPH.

The inside of the commuter rail vehicle was immaculate! It had that new train smell. I was taken aback by the imbalanced seating and had to make sure we hadn’t accidentally boarded a plane. The vehicles have a top speed of 79 MPH.

I was excited to finally ride the A line! And if you had asked if my baby blue shirt was in honor of the #TrainToThePlane, I would have answered, "Yes."

I was excited to finally ride the A line! And if you had asked if my baby blue shirt was in honor of the #TrainToThePlane, I would have answered, “Yes.”

I tweeted back and forth with Lisa from @RideRTD and she tracked me down and gave me a sweet squeezy train! I was so calm for the rest of the ride. We departed four minutes early on the inaugural public run of the A line!

I tweeted back and forth with Lisa from @RideRTD and she tracked me down and gave me a sweet squeezy train! I was so calm for the rest of the ride. We departed four minutes early on the inaugural public run of the A line!

The station at 38th and Blake was ready for passengers! Other stations had lines of people waiting to board the first outbound train.

The station at 38th and Blake was ready for passengers! Other stations had lines of people waiting to board the first outbound train.

We passed behind Coors Field as we arrived to Union Station. The Rockies would play (and beat!) the Dodgers on that ground later that day.

We passed behind Coors Field as we arrived to Union Station. The Rockies would play (and beat!) the Dodgers on that ground later that day.

The first passengers arriving at Union Station on the A line!

The first passengers arriving at Union Station on the A line!

We made it! The platform is the first at Union Station with at-grade boarding. Both the light rail vehicles and Amtrak trains require passengers to go up steps to board.

We made it! The platform is the first at Union Station with at-grade boarding. Both the light rail vehicles and Amtrak trains require passengers to go up steps to board.

The passengers on the right wait their turn for a ride on the A line, while those on the left celebrate a smooth inaugural ride.

The passengers on the right wait their turn for a ride on the A line, while those on the left celebrate a smooth inaugural ride.

I love this view because the commuter rail vehicle reminds me of the MTA rolling stock. Denver finally has commuter rail!

I love this view because the commuter rail vehicle reminds me of the MTA rolling stock. Denver finally has commuter rail!

Downtown Denver has come a long way in the last few years. The #TrainToThePlane sits proudly and personified on the backside of Union Station in this photo.

Downtown Denver has come a long way in the last few years. The #TrainToThePlane sits proudly and personified on the backside of Union Station in this photo.

The tracks at Union Station have a neat roof structure! Which doesn't provide much actual roof-age. But it makes for cool photos! Two buildings in development can be seen at the end of the platforms, which will provide even more residential and retail buzz for the LoDo area.

The tracks at Union Station have a neat roof structure! Which doesn’t provide much actual roof-age. But it makes for cool photos! Two buildings in development can be seen at the end of the platforms, which will provide even more residential and retail buzz for the LoDo area.

The queue to board the A line to DIA wrapped around the side of Union Station by the time we arrived on the first train. A public train had left Union Station towards DIA at the same time as ours. The tunnel in the foreground is the entrance to the underground bus depot.

The queue to board the A line to DIA wrapped around the side of Union Station by the time we arrived on the first train. A public train had left Union Station towards DIA at the same time as ours. The tunnel in the foreground is the entrance to the underground bus depot.

The interior of Union Station was bustling! Cities take note: this is a public space to die for.

The interior of Union Station was bustling! Cities take note: this is a public space to die for.

Taking a break from transit, Austin and I made our way up 16th Street Mall to the state capitol!

Taking a break from transit, Austin and I made our way up 16th Street Mall to the state capitol!

One of the stairs near the doors to the capitol is etched with the phrase "One Mile Above Sea Level." The Mile High City, indeed!

One of the stairs near the doors to the capitol is etched with the phrase “One Mile Above Sea Level.” The Mile High City, indeed!

We exercised our rights as citizens willing to walk through a metal detector to experience the rotunda of the Colorado capitol dome.

We exercised our rights as citizens willing to walk through a metal detector to experience the rotunda of the Colorado capitol dome.

The interior of the capitol reminded me of the Minnesota state capitol in St. Paul! Both are incredibly ornate and stately, but feel a tad smaller than the U.S. Capitol building.

The interior of the capitol reminded me of the Minnesota state capitol in St. Paul! Both are incredibly ornate and stately, but feel a tad smaller than the U.S. Capitol building.

There were even representatives working in the Colorado House of Representatives chamber! Considering this was a Friday afternoon, I guess I shouldn't be surprised. The speakers at the ceremony had just praised these individuals' bipartisanship and its impact on the passage and completion of the A line.

There were even representatives working in the Colorado House of Representatives chamber! Considering this was a Friday afternoon, I guess I shouldn’t be surprised. The speakers at the ceremony had just praised these individuals’ bipartisanship and its impact on the passage and completion of the A line.

We joined up with a capitol tour just in time to catch a trip up to the dome!

We joined up with a capitol tour just in time to catch a trip up to the dome!

The views looking westward were stunning! Unfortunately, the mountains were more impressive in real life. It was neat to think how all the grass between the capitol and city building had been covered with fans (including myself!) during the Broncos Super Bowl Parade and celebration just a few short months ago.

The views looking westward were stunning! Unfortunately, the mountains were more impressive in real life. It was neat to think how all the grass between the capitol and city building had been covered with fans (including myself!) during the Broncos Super Bowl Parade and celebration just a few short months ago.

The flags cooperated as I snapped a photo of the city building and the rounded Denver Post building. 16th Street Mall can be seen on the far right.

The flags cooperated as I snapped a photo of the city building and the rounded Denver Post building. 16th Street Mall can be seen on the far right.

And continuing the northward pan, this was the view of downtown Denver from the capitol dome.

And continuing the northward pan, this was the view of downtown Denver from the capitol dome.

This was the staircase we took to reach the dome level at the capitol. I filmed a brief episode for the Discovery Channel in my mind during the trips up and down.

This was the staircase we took to reach the dome level at the capitol. I filmed a brief episode for the Discovery Channel in my mind during the trips up and down.

Walking back towards Union Station, we made our last pass through Civic Center Station. The end-of-line for the Mall Ride is slated for replacement by something glassier, according to Austin.

Walking back towards Union Station, we made our last pass through Civic Center Station. The end-of-line for the Mall Ride is slated for replacement by something glassier, according to Austin.

This semi-protected bike lane on Lawrence Street reminded us that on a day that a train stole the show, mobility options do not stop with heavy rail.

This semi-protected bike lane on Lawrence Street reminded us that on a day that a train stole the show, mobility options do not stop with heavy rail.

We made the journey back to Fort Collins using the Flatiron Flyer “bus rapid transit” from Union Station to Boulder. From there, the FLEX took us north onto the MAX guideway and to our respective stops in FoCo. Our $9 regional RTD day passes worked as fare for both the AB and the Flyer. The A line was free for opening day, and I used my Transfort year pass to board the FLEX. This means, we traveled to Denver and back for only nine dollars. Without Transfort passes, the total would have been $11.50. Once the A line begins revenue service, this route will cost $20.50. Regardless, transit has come a long way in northern Colorado and our (very circuitous) route showed that mobility has reached new heights.

I am excited for the rest of the FasTracks program and am thrilled we had the chance to experience the first public run of the #TrainToThePlane.

Until next time Denver opens a train line, ride on!

Have you gotten to ride the A line yet? What did you think? Let me know in the comments below!

Seeking a Pro Bono* Position in a Transit Dance Video

Objective

I am seeking a pro bono* position in a transit dance video. I intend to use my multimodal excitement to raise awareness, excitement, and ridership of American transit systems. Please contact me if you are in need of someone who can learn dance steps on bus steps. Let’s make transit more visible, safer, and more fun!

Experience

DanceBlue, University of Kentucky Dance Marathon
Lexington, KY
February 2013

I’m the one in the white.

Actually, I may have been wearing blue. We’d been dancing for 23.5 hours at point.

Purdue Night Train Swing Dance Club
West Lafayette, IN
August 2013 – December 2014

If you didn’t get a great sampling of my individual skill from DanceBlue, the following video shows my full repertoire of lindy hop moves and my ability to seemingly read them off the ceiling.

Skills

  • Well-versed at managing life with awkward arms
  • Experience at walking on beat for minutes at a time
  • Ability to provide vision for groups of people though bus windows

Influences

I consider the following two videos required viewing for all participants in my future transit dance videos.

Silver Line Opening
Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority

The guy who opens the video inspires me. His energy walking down a suburban street to a train is infectious. I’m moving my shoulders like that right now. You too?

Let’s match (or exceed) this.

Virgin American Safety Video
The airline formerly known as Virgin America

My own flight on Virgin, I was literally grinning ear-to-ear the five minutes before the boarding door closed and the following video is the reason why. I’m not sure whether I love the lyrics or choreography more. “So tonight, get ready to fly, cuz we’re gonna live it on up in the sky”? Genius.

I know this isn’t public transit, but they move people and this video moves me. I hope the Alaskan Airlines’ dancers are stretching and their choreographer is being inspired as we speak.

Let’s match (or exceed) this.

Contact

If you are a transit agency producing promotional media, contact me and we’ll talk.

If you are an enthusiastic transit rider, let’s brainstorm.

Either way, see you on the rails.

* The pro bono part is negotiable.

Bike Share Has Arrived in Fort Collins

I took advantage of a gorgeous Saturday morning to try out Fort Collins’ newest urban mobility option: bike share!

The overall process is quite smooth. Here are your six steps to a ride about the town.

  1. Download the Zagster app and create an account.
  2. Choose from daily, weekly, or yearly memberships.
  3. Enter the code of the bike you wish to use into the app to get the U-lock key.
  4. Unlock the bike.
  5. Ride!
  6. Return the bike to any station, lock it up with the U-lock, and hit “Return it!” on the app.

That’s it! Keep reading for some photos of my experience and details on each component of the bike share.

The Stations

As you can see in the screenshots below, there are several stations scattered throughout Old Town. The second image is a wider map view of Fort Collins, which shows the stations are very concentrated in a single part of town for now. I would expect the station coverage to expand if the program proves successful in the denser section of Fort Collins, following the roll-out model of Chicago’s Divvy bike share.

Map of bike share stations in north Fort Collins.

Map of bike share stations in north Fort Collins.

Bike share stations are concentrated main around Old Town Fort Collins at the system's launch on Friday, April 1st. But this is no joke!

Bike share stations are concentrated main around Old Town Fort Collins at the system’s launch on Friday, April 1st. But this is no joke!

The bike share station at Oak and College.

The bike share station at Oak and College.

The instructions at the Oak and College station have already been "artistically modified."

The instructions at the Oak and College station have already been “artistically modified.”

The Fees

The fee structure is as follows:

  • 24 hour membership for $7, weekly membership for $15, or annual membership for $60.
  • Free to checkout a bike for the first 30 minutes, $2 an hour after that, up to $18 for a single ride.

I’ve included some screenshots showing how you pick your payment plan in the Zagster app. I purchased the 24 hour membership for $7 and had the bike checked out for about 50 minutes, resulting in a $2 usage fee.

Screenshot of the Zapster app for the 24 hour membership.

Screenshot of the Zapster app for the 24 hour membership.

Screenshot of the Zapster app for the weekly membership.

Screenshot of the Zapster app for the weekly membership.

Screenshot of the Zapster app for the annual membership.

Screenshot of the Zapster app for the annual membership.

The Bikes

I could tell the bikes were very new (I was riding on their second day of operation) and mine had a great feel to it! It was a comfortable cruiser with 8 speeds controlled by a single dial on the right hand grip. I would have preferred one higher gear for cruising down Mountain Avenue, but the gear range is quite suitable for most urban biking trips, especially in a town as flat as Fort Collins.

Two codes are important when unlocking the bike. First, you enter the 4-digit code labeled “Zagster.com Bike #” into the app. This code is on the side of the keypad on the rack above the back tire. There is also a longer code on the other side that did not work. The app gave a me a bike not available error when I tried the longer one, so be sure to enter the correct code! After you do this, the app will give you a longer code which you enter on the bike keypad (sandwiched by two presses of the ENT(er) key). This will cause they keypad to open, revealing a key you can use the unlock the U-lock.

The bike even had a bell and basket in front! I saw another bike share user put the U-lock in a slot on the back rack so I did the same. It jiggled a bit while the bike was in motion, so I wonder if some rubber could be added to create a more peaceful ride.

I’m not quite sure what I did to relock the key box when I returned the bike. I locked the U-lock back up to the station, but could not get the key box to close. The sign on the bike says to re-enter your code if you can’t get the box to lock, and I did this and was eventually able to hear the box relock, but I don’t think it was because of me re-entering the code. If you understand the inputs and feedback of this system, please let me know!

The keypad on the back rack of the bike.

The keypad on the back rack of the bike.

Instruction for using the keypad, also on the back rack of the bike.

Instruction for using the keypad, also on the back rack of the bike.

A row of new Zagster bikes at the Oak and College station.

A row of new Zagster bikes at the Oak and College station.

The 4-digit code you type into the app on the side of the keypad.

The 4-digit code you type into the app on the side of the keypad.

The 8-digit code you DO NOT type into the app.

The 8-digit code you DO NOT type into the app.

The slot which holds the U-lock while you ride.

The slot which holds the U-lock while you ride.

Recommendations for the Bike Share

I noticed two features that were missing from the app. First, it did not seem possible to begin a second reservation using the same phone. This would be a major hindrance to renting bikes for a family. I would hope there is actually a way to do this. Does anyone know if I just missed this feature?

Second, the app does not tell you how many bikes are available at each station. I know I did not miss this feature because the technology does not exist at the stations to track this. When I said “Return It!” it was my responsibility to lock the bike up to any station using the provided U-lock. Yes, I returned mine to the same station from which I checked it out, but this is not required, nor known to the app. Bike counts will not affect passerbys, but it could prevent someone from leaving home expecting to rent a bike that may not be at the closest station.

All in all, I was quite pleased with the new Fort Collins bike share! I had a lovely bike ride from Old Town to City Park and back on a comfortable bike. Visible bikes in Old Town are a great addition to an already strong biking culture in this city. I can see the system being very useful for visitors or even residents who came to Old Town without their bike but decide to go on a ride. Almost more than anything, we are seeing mobility options improve in Fort Collins and that should be celebrated!

I know I normally say this about other modes of transit, but until next time…

Ride on!

Have you had any good or bad experiences with the bike share?

My Zagster bike at City Park Lake. The new bike share is a great improvement for mobility in Fort Collins!

My Zagster bike at City Park Lake. The new bike share is a great improvement for mobility in Fort Collins!