Dozens of people braved the cold Friday to be among the first to ride the RTD’s new light rail line through Aurora.
“This is the day when the future of Aurora really begins,” said Aurora Mayor Steve Hogan told the crowd. “This line today is part of what will be one of the finest systems in the world.”
Hogan also asked the people of Aurora to keep an open mind about future transit investments:
“We got ours today,” he said. “When other cities come to us and ask for help finishing, we must say yes.”
But not all of the people in the audience were happy with RTD’s and Aurora’s investment. Around ten people with Colorado People’s Alliance interrupted RTD General Manager Dave Genova’s remarks, singing while he spoke.
Afterward, Lupita Carrasquillo, the group’s economic justice coordinator, explained that the interruption was to reopen discussion around an income-based pass to open access to low-income riders.
“Low-income people should have access to transit both in terms of distance and economics. It’s not as accessible as it could and should be,” she said.
The group has suggested money spent on beautification projects would be better spent on the $11 million cost for such a program.
After remarks and ribbon-cutting, it was on to the rails.
Riders on Wednesday included retirees looking for something to do, civically engaged young people and a few transit enthusiasts like Bill Amarosa.
Amarosa won’t be using the R Line, but that’s because he traveled from New York City to see the opening of the line.
“It’s a big deal when a new public transit rail line opens,” Amarosa said to explain his hobby. So what does a transit rail connoisseur think of the Aurora’s latest addition?
“It’s nice to see a line that isn’t downtown-oriented,” he said. “It seems like they’re trying to give people options.”
For reference, here’s where it goes again:
Let me direct your attention to the top of that map. More than a few people Friday mentioned the connection to the A Line, but some were wary to ride the train that they’ve heard is having problems.
“I would not take the R Line to the A Line because of the issues, but I would consider it if they were fixed,” Becca Giffin said.
Others were more excited about the bottom half of the map, namely the route that traces I-225.
“I’m hoping it takes traffic off of 225,” Dwight Taylor said. “And I’m hoping they’ll get the A Line straightened out, too.”
And if you haven’t had a chance to ride for yourself yet, put this video on full screen and sit facing away from your screen. Voila!