More news has come on on how RTD plans to deal with it's growing cost of building Fastracks. The costs have grown from the original $4.7 billion presented to voters when they passed bonding to $6.5 billion. The approach appears to break down as follows :
a) Project Cuts - They're planning on keeping all corridors and the length on those as planned. However, they're looking to make all sorts of cuts to how those lines are built. They're looking at making stations smaller so they can only handle 3-car trains. They're taking out previously planned pedestrian bridges. Drainage plans will only be capable of handling 5 year storms. They're making service cut backs such as running trains every 15 minutes in places they had originally proposed running them every 5 minutes.
b) More Money - RTD is looking to now ask the Federal government for $1.42 billion in funding (@50% more than originally planned). Privatization is on the cards with private investors able to operate the heavy rail commuter lines. They're also looking at issuing more bonds.
What does this mean? Some of the cutbacks are likely to result in higher maintenance costs. Service will also be less convenient whether it will be small issues such pedestrian access reduced or it just taking a lot more time to commute with trains running less frequently. And if ridership grows? Money will have to be put into rebuilding stations to handle longer trains.
Issuing new bonds will mean it will take longer to retire the bonds. Last year RTD issued $600 million in bonds instead of $200 million to address lower than fore casted sales tax revenues. They're looking to add even more to those bonding issues. With the large number of transit projects asking the federal government for money, it's not clear how much of the larger federal contribution Fastracks will be able to obtain.