Denver has cut commute times in half by partnering with a private consortium on a new rail link. Under the terms of the agreement, the private partners bear responsibility for maintaining a good rail service for the next 30 years. This allowed Denver’s transport authority to spread out its costs, reduce its exposure to risk, and make its payments dependent on a continuing high standard.
Results & Impact
The project has built two entire railway lines and part of a third. The new cars carry up to 200 passengers each and reach speeds of 79 miles per hour. On the link to the airport, journey times are 36 minutes, around half that needed to cover the distance by car
The Denver Regional Transportation District, Denver Transit Partners, federal government
Over the 34-year concession agreement, Denver Transit Partners will design, build, finance, operate and maintain the railway service. Denver will spread the upfront costs over 30 years, making service payments to Denver Transit Partners based on how well the train operates and is maintained. DTP is contractually obliged to not only maintain the rail cars and line, but also ensure safe and reliable commuter service. The concession agreement allows Denver to spread costs and preserve public funds
Cost & Value
The Eagle P3 cost $2.2 billion to build
Running since 2016
The first public-private partnership for commuter rail in the United States has cut travel time from downtown Denver to the city airport in half.
The Denver Regional Transportation District (RTD) partnered with the Denver Transit Partners (DTP), a private consortium run by the Fluor Corporation, in a $2.2 billion project to build the 36-mile Eagle P3 rail service.
By partnering the DTP, Denver’s transit authority expedited construction, reduced costs and shifted risk to the private sector. A 34-year concession agreement stipulates that the DTP will design, build, finance, operate and maintain the project.
The new cars carry up to 200 passengers each and reach speeds of 79 miles per hour. The Colorado A Line allows commuters to travel between Denver Union Station and Denver International Airport in just 35 minutes – half the time it takes to drive between the two points.
The project is part of a wider plan to transition residents from cars to public transit with 121 miles of new commuter and light-rail tracks in the region, 18 miles of bus rapid transit lanes, 57 new rapid transit stations, and 21,000 park-and-ride spots.
After a competitive proposal and bidding process that began in 2008, RTD and DTP came to an agreement in August 2011. The project was to take five years to design and build, with the consortium maintaining and operating the Eagle P3 for the subsequent 29 years. The project was completed on time, in June 2016.
The Eagle P3 cost $2.2 billion to build. The DTP contributed $450 million, a federal grant provided $1.03 billion and the remainder came from RTD sales taxes.
RTD will spread the upfront costs over 30 years, making service payments to DTP based on how well the train operates and is maintained. DTP is contractually obliged to not only maintain the rail cars and line, but also ensure safe and reliable commuter service. The concession agreement allows Denver to spread costs and preserve public funds.
The project consists of the University of Colorado A Line, G Line and the first segment of the B Line to Westminster, 56 commuter rail cars and a commuter rail maintenance facility.
(Picture credit: Regional Transportation District)