By Rick Sallinger
DENVER (CBS4)– Rail service begins Friday from Union Station to Denver International Airport. In most cases, it will be cheaper the taking a taxi or car service like Uber or Lyft, but CBS4 found the cost will be higher than most other cities with rail links to the airport.
When told the cost of the trip one passenger waiting to go to the airport by bus thought it was high. The price is $9, the train stops at eight stations arriving in 37 minutes at DIA.
“To pay $9 that’s a little more than i would have been enthusiastic about paying,” the man in town for a job interview said.
That may be because of what CBS4 found for other cities, like Chicago where it’s only $2.25 for a 45 minute trip from O’Hare International Airport to downtown, the same price from Midway International Airport. Dallas light rail gets you to the center of the city in 40 minutes for $2.50. How about Baltimore? It’s 37 minutes to BWI for just $1.70.
In Seattle in just 36 minutes you can make it from the airport to downtown at just a fraction of the price it will cost in Denver. While on another story assignment there, CBS4 reporter Rick Sallinger paid just $3. The light rail line runs 15.6 miles to downtown Seattle then you can go travel even further.
Denver’s downtown to airport route is longer, 23 miles, it doesn’t use light rail, but rather a commuter rail train that can go up to 79 mph. Your taxes paid for the construction, but they don’t subsidize the fare.
RTD’s Nate Currey notes the University of Colorado bought the naming rights for the line which helps a bit on cost, but the higher price than many other cities came after an extensive fare review for the system.
He noted that DIA is a long way out from the center of the city.
“The distance that Denver’s airport is from downtown has been a challenge and has been since we moved the airport 20 years ago.”
Of all the cities with direct rail links, only a few were close to the $9 DIA price like San Francisco’s BART, $8.95 to the city center.
Currey notes RTD was charging $9 and up for bus service to DIA, “We don’t feel $9 is high, now that’s full fare. We have lower fares.”
It will be $4.50 for seniors, students and the disabled. The $9 ticket will also serve as an all-day system wide pass.
The train is about to depart and RTD insists with a $9 fare no one is being taken for a ride.