Although it is hard to determine if Denver's plan to heavily invest into public transit will be successful, the laws of induced demand have proven that no matter how many lanes you add to a highway, it will be just as congested as before.
"We're witnessing the transformation of a North American city through transportation infrastructure investment," says Washington. He foresees a not-too-distant future when Denverites will be able to access not only light and commuter rail but also RTD buses, B-Cycle bicycles, and car-share vehicles using a single stored-value fare card.
"You'll wheel your suitcase out of Denver International Airport, ride the train to Union Station, and hop a Car2Go — or even a B-Cycle if you're traveling light — to your house or hotel. All using one card."
It's a beautiful vision, if one undermined by an uncomfortable truth. Denver's mode share for transit — the proportion of people who use buses or light rail to commute — is only about 6 percent. Contrast this with the Canadian city of Calgary, where a similarly sized bus and light-rail fleet operating in a similarly dispersed landscape draws in a mode share of nearly 17 percent. Even epically sprawled Atlanta and automobile-mad Los Angeles manage to achieve almost twice Denver's per capita transit ridership.
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