Pandemic Casts a Shadow Over Today's Big Rail Line Opening in Denver

The N Line between Denver and its northern suburbs opens today to the public, but N Line trains are expected to carry far fewer passengers, and lower frequencies, than originally planned.

1 minute read

September 21, 2020, 7:00 AM PDT

By James Brasuell @CasualBrasuell


Regional Transportation District

The N Line (not pictured) is the latest new rail line to be opened as part of the Regional Transportation District's FasTracks plan to add 120 miles of rail to the region. | jackanerd / Shutterstock

The Regional Transportation District, the transit provider for the Denver region, is opening the N Line rail line between Downtown Denver and the city's Northern Suburbs. 

An article by John Aguilar prepares the public for what will be a very strange opening indeed, with the coronavirus gutting transit ridership in the Denver region as in other parts of the country. In Denver, transit ridership has declined by 64.4 percent, according to Aguilar, during the second quarter of 2020 compared to the previous year.

The 13-mile commuter rail line connecting Union Station to Commerce City, Northglenn and Thornton is one of the only major transit projects anywhere to go operational in the midst of a global health crisis, and its launch next week raises fresh questions about what the future of public transportation will look like once the coronavirus fades into memory.

Because of the pandemic's effect on ridership, the "N-Line will likely carry less than half of the projected 5,600 to 8,100 daily riders it was expected to have at the end of its first year," reports Aguilar. RTD service designer have cut headways on the N-Line before it's even open. Trains will run every 30 minutes, down from the originally planned 20 minutes.

N Line map courtesy of the Regional Transportation District

Friday, September 18, 2020 in The Denver Post

Large blank mall building with only two cars in large parking lot.

Pennsylvania Mall Conversion Bill Passes House

If passed, the bill would promote the adaptive reuse of defunct commercial buildings.

April 18, 2024 - Central Penn Business Journal

Aerial view of Oakland, California with bay in background

California Exodus: Population Drops Below 39 Million

Never mind the 40 million that demographers predicted the Golden State would reach by 2018. The state's population dipped below 39 million to 38.965 million last July, according to Census data released in March, the lowest since 2015.

April 11, 2024 - Los Angeles Times

Wood-frame two-story rowhouses under construction.

Fair Housing Cannot Take a Back Seat to ‘Build, Baby, Build’

If we overlook fair housing principles in the plan to build US housing back better, we risk ending up right back where we started.

April 11, 2024 - James Jennings

Renewable Energy

Just Transition: Bringing Equity to the Clean Energy Conversation

A new report from the Environmental Defense Fund offers a roadmap for countries, energy companies, and other stakeholders to navigate the complexities of transitioning to clean energy while ensuring equity at every step of the process.

21 minutes ago - Environmental Defense Fund

Black car parked in bike lane

New App Pays Users to Report Illegally Parked Cars

A Swedish company is leveraging the power of crowdsourcing and the gig economy to enforce parking laws.

1 hour ago - Euronews

Close-up of row of slot machines in dark casino.

New York Casinos Gain Zoning Change Approval

The new process will let casino projects avoid undergoing a separate land use review in certain circumstances.

2 hours ago - The Real Deal

News from HUD User

HUD's Office of Policy Development and Research

Call for Speakers

Mpact Transit + Community

New Updates on PD&R Edge

HUD's Office of Policy Development and Research

Urban Design for Planners 1: Software Tools

This six-course series explores essential urban design concepts using open source software and equips planners with the tools they need to participate fully in the urban design process.

Planning for Universal Design

Learn the tools for implementing Universal Design in planning regulations.