Steve Weil, the head of Rockmount Ranch Wear, had a very nice time on his family vacation in Puerto Rico. He'd go there again in a heartbeat. But he swears he'll never take the A line train to Denver International Airport again. Ever. And he'd been a fan who'd frequently used the Train to the Plane since it started running last April. Here's his saga:
"It was all going like clockwork. My family was in the car heading off for our spring-break vacation in Puerto Rico Saturday night, March 18. We parked the car at my LoDo office, dragged our luggage three blocks, bought DIA train tickets, boarded the 10 p.m. train — yes, 10 p.m.for a red-eye flight — and it does not budge. At 10:15, there's a "We apologize for the delay" announcement, but it does not give the estimated time of departure. The trains fills up; there's no RTD staff in sight. I ask the train driver how long it will be; he has no idea if it's two minutes or two hours. I rush back and tell my family we have to get an Uber. Eighty-five dollars later (plus three wasted train tickets for $27), we reach DIA just in time to make the flight..."
Weil and his family time did get to Puerto Rico, but they still needed to get back to Denver...and to their car in LoDo. At around 10 p.m. on Saturday, March 25, they boarded a train, which at least pulled out of the DIA Station — but then stopped a few miles into the journey. "We sat for fifteen minutes with no announcements, no explanation, no nothing," Weil reports. "Finally, a guard RTD contracts with walked by and said the train 'went out of service.' So we dragged our baggage down the platform, crossed the tracks to a parking lot — where the express bus to downtown pulled away just as we approached."
Fortunately, a local bus was waiting, but since it made stops en route, it took more than another hour to reach downtown. "We arrived about a block away from where the train would have brought us. As we made our way to Union Station, I saw many RTD posters illustrating 'Dumb Ways to Die' using RTD. My reaction? The posters would better serve the public by by warning 'Dumb Way to Go to DIA,'" Weil concludes. "Who oversees RTD and holds it accountable? Apparently no one."
Presented with the details of Weil's saga, RTD spokesman Nate Currey offers his apologies and at least a partial accounting for the problems on the train operated for RTD by Denver Transit Partners. Although the events of March 18 are still a mystery, Weil was apparently caught up in some planned bridge construction work over the commuter-rail corridor that necessitated a bus shuttle from the Central Park stop to Denver Union Station on March 25. Bad timing; RTD had sent out advance announcements of the work, including a tweet, that Weil no doubt missed while he was on the beach.
Currey himself was out on the line that evening, where "there were some minor delays around the single-track sections of the line that I observed, with one train waiting for eleven minutes to proceed," he says. "This is unusual, though, as the reliability of the University of Colorado A line service has markedly improved over the past 90 to 120 days."
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Which is going to come as news to the Westword writer who missed his plane when his train stopped en route to DIA on Thursday, March 23. We'll publish his saga later this week; in the meantime, share your own A Line stories in the comments section.