Weekend trips to cities like Boston, Chicago or San Francisco rarely require a rental car to get around, given their extensive public transportation systems. But more unexpected locales are joining the car-optional list as new and expanding rapid transit options take root across the country.
Article by the NY Times - "Car-Free Vacations for the Urban Traveler"
Many major transit systems, like those in New York, predate the ubiquity of cars and serve densely populated urban areas. Now, younger and less dense cities, like Denver, are adding trains or streetcars. Even places most closely associated with cars, like Detroit and Los Angeles, are remaking transit networks once ripped out to make way for Fords, Chevys and Chryslers.
“It’s interesting to see how the West in particular is growing and expanding public transportation,” said Virginia Miller, a spokeswoman for the American Public Transportation Association.
The nonprofit group reported that 69 percent of public transportation initiatives on ballots nationwide in the November 2016 elections were approved, for a total of about $170 billion in transit projects.
With occasional assists by taxis and rideshares, visitors to these cities might be able to skip the rental car counter.
Downtown Denver is 23 miles from Denver International Airport, a distance now covered by the new University of Colorado A Line, which opened last spring, in 37 minutes. The $9 fare acts as a day pass for limitless rides on a rapidly expanding network of light and commuter rail. The new R Line, which is scheduled to open this month, will add 10.5 miles to the regional system that has more than doubled to about 98 miles.
The terminus of the airport train, the newly refurbished Union Station, has trendy restaurants, bars and shops as well as its own stylish lodging, the Crawford Hotel. The station is an anchor in the historic LoDo (Lower Downtown) district, where attractions like the Museum of Contemporary Art Denver and Coors Field are within walking distance.
In addition, the bike-share program Denver B-cycle operates from 88 locations and offers a good way to reach neighborhoods like RiNo, or River North, home to many breweries and restaurants, or Cherry Creek for shopping. There’s even a new electric three-wheel vehicle service, eTuk, that offers city and brewery tours.
And you can take a day trip without renting wheels, via the new Flatiron Flyer rapid transit bus, which offers service from Denver to Boulder in under an hour. Amtrak’s Winter Park Express runs from Union Station to the ski slopes of Winter Park on weekends through March 26.
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