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RTD Announces New Mall Buses, Early Arrival For New Light Rail

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DENVER (CBS4) – The buses currently running along the 16th Street Mall have been in service since 1999, but the Regional Transportation District this week gave the approval to buy 32 new buses.

The buses are going to be specifically designed for the 16th Street Mall and will cost approximately $21 million.

RTD FasTracks Public Information Manager Pauletta Tonilas said on CBS4 This Morning the new buses will be “more modern, more contemporary.” She said they have had two prototypes going up and down the mall for about a year.

“We did a survey of passengers to see what they thought of them and they gave us some really great feedback,” Tonilas told CBS4 Traffic Specialist Joel Hillan on Thursday. “They like them, but we have made some adjustments to the development. Those are going to be built into the new shuttle buses.”

Tonilas said the company that built the original mall ride buses has gone out of business, which has made it difficult to maintain the fleet and to get parts when they break down.

RTD also announced plans this week for speeding up the launch of the North Metro Rail Line. It will be able to go forward 15 years earlier than expected.

“Recently we have found that we can save some money by refinancing some of our debt and taking advantage of the financial markets and being able to save some money on the interest for paying off our debt from what we had expected,” Tonilas said. Tonilas said RTD is also taking advantage of historically low interest rates.

The original plan was to build out the line from Denver’s Union Station to the National Western Stock Show Complex, with completion by 2018. Now the build will continue the rail out to 72nd Street in Commerce City and have it finished by that date, instead of the projected date of 2030 or 2035. Although that stretch of the line represents a small portion of the overall line, it is the most expensive (about a third of the cost).

“We’re hoping that within the next 10 months we can issue a request for proposals to take in competitive bids to construct that line up to 72nd,” Tonilas said.

Construction could start as early as the summer of 2014 with projected completion in 2018.

About The Blogger

- In the Traffic Blog Joel Hillan writes about highways to avoid, trouble spots throughout the city of Denver and construction issues. He is always interested in hearing about your traffic problems, so send him an email. Also, follow Joel on Twitter at @JoelHillan.

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