DENVER — All aboard the G Line!
People from Denver to Wheat Ridge have been waiting to hear those words since October 2016, when the train running between those two cities was scheduled to open. Friday, the Gold Line begins operations.
The inaugural trip took place around 10 a.m. Friday morning. It and all other rides for the next two weeks will be free, to make up for the two-and-a-half-year delay.
Passengers who start in Denver will get on the train at Union Station, and then travel through Arvada before reaching Wheat Ridge. Trains will hit eight stations between the two points. In total, the 11.2-mile ride takes about 27 minutes.
MAP OF G LINE STOPS:
Reporters got a preview of the G Line on Tuesday. On the outside, the cars are outfitted in yellow, and "Wheat Ridge,” “Arvada,” and “Downtown,” are written in black on the exterior walls. The words are joined by a large “G,” and even a silhouette of the Olde Town Arvada water tower.
On the inside, it looks like its sister train, the A Line – even down to the luggage racks - as plenty of customers are expected to connect to “the train to the plane” at Union Station and head on to the airport.
The A Line started running almost exactly two years ago. Both lines have been plagued by concerns with the technology they use to operate, “positive train control.” Crossing gates along the A Line would come down too early or stay down too long, and that problem was enough to derail operating plans for the G Line and put it into (what was) an indefinite testing phase.
Federal and state regulators didn’t want to give the G Line a green light to open until the Regional Transportation District (RTD), which manages the trains, and Denver Transit Partners (DTP), the contractor that built the trains, addressed the issues. RTD CEO Dave Genova announced on April 1 that they had permission to start operating the G Line.
Regulators had also forced both trains to sound their horns and man the crossing gates with flaggers because of the problems, but quiet zones went into effect on April 19. But, like the A Line, horns may still sound occasionally for reasons including workers near the tracks or an unexpected issue with a crossing gate. Flaggers still may appear along the route, as well.
Arvada Mayor Marc Williams once called the train “the unicorn of Olde Town,” but today, the G Line is a myth no more.
“I thought I was dreaming, but I pinched myself, and I really am awake, I’m not dreaming, and it is a great day,” he said during Tuesday's test run. “You know, it’s been a long time coming. It’s been a lot of frustration. A lot of energy has been expended, but it’s been worth it. You forget the birthing pains – at least, I’ve been told.”
Arvada has a big party planned for opening weekend. Saturday's celebration will include live music and activities for kids, and businesses near the G Line are offering freebies and specials.
RTD expects that 9,000 people will ride the G Line in a day. A one-way ride costs $3, and parking is available at every station, except Union Station.
The agency's next big move is to work on the N Line to Thornton. The N Line started its testing phase last week.
RTD said in June that it plans to operate the N Line without the help of DTP. Genova said at the time that this decision was made for financial reasons, and not because the organizations are battling each other in court.
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