Monday, December 18, 2006


My wife and I drove down to Denver today along I-25. We met a friend near Wash Park and then headed further south to I-225 and points farther east and south. Along I-25 we got a look at the brand new southeast corridor light rail trains. Being a fan of trains and enjoying riding on light rail trains (just rode the Hiawatha Line between downtown Minneapolis and the Minneapolis airport last week) I wish I could say that this is not a very expensive boondoggle. But I can't say that. We saw probably a dozen or more different tain cars during our drive. Quick glances at all the train cars revealed totally empty and nearly empty cars. We couldn't count the people of course. There was no time. But I'd wager a lot of money that we saw less than 20 people riding the light rail.

Now we were driving in the late morning and early afternoon. I know these are not peak travel times. Perhaps these trollies are jammed full of commuters during the morning and evening rush hours. The Minneapolis light rail was also very, very sparsely populated when we rode it last week. Can this be a good use of billions of taxpayer dollars nationwide?

In contrast we drove in the HOV/Toll lane both ways, too. The switch of the HOV lane in the middle of I-25 to be both a high occupancy lane and a toll lane seems like a very good idea. The toll option allows people to voluntarily opt to pay a small fee to reduce the vehicle load on I-25. I don't know how much this helps the traffic flow on the interstate in Denver, but it sure helps me drive to and back from Denver when the HOV/Toll lane is open in my direction.