June 24, 2018

West Corridor and FasTracks Update

West Corridor bridge over 6th Avenue at Indiana (RTD Photo)

RTD and some of the polling folks involved with FasTracks provided an in-depth briefing yesterday morning at the Metro Mayors Caucus meeting.  The FasTracks construction update is very encouraging: 48 miles of new rail lines now under construction, 8 projects under way, and the West Corridor to Golden is 75% complete.

 

The update on the latest public opinion research is even more interesting.  Some key findings:

  1. Mass transit and FasTracks remain very popular with voters.
  2. Voters really seem to get the value of a full buildout of FasTracks system, including the DIA line.  This is true even among people who themselves aren’t frequent travelers and won’t themselves use FasTracks.
  3. Voters blame the FasTracks budget challenges on the economy; they don’t blame RTD.
  4. Public support for a tax increase to complete the FasTracks buildout increased as the size of the potential tax increase grew.  In other words support for a 4/10 of a penny increase in the FasTracks tax was substantially greater than support for a 3/10 of a penny increase, which was itself substantially more than support for 2/10, and so on.  In fact, support for no tax increase was about 35% (and opposition to not increasing the tax was about 65%).  With respect to FasTracks, Denver Metro voters really value time (the length of time before the system is built out), even more than money (the amount of the tax increase).

RTD will make a decision soon about how much of a tax increase they will ask the voters to approve to complete buildout of the FasTracks system, so expect to see a lot of media coverage over the next couple of months.

The Denver Post has a story on that meeting.  This is one of those where the story isn’t quite accurate (MMC actually didn’t make a decision because we act on consensus and clearly didn’t have that, especially with the Littleton mayor), but the characterization of the gist was probably fair (most of the mayors expressed support for 4% because it means the system gets built out so much quicker and because voter support seems so much higher with that proposal than with lower proposals).