Local Politics

N.C. delegates tour Denver by light rail

The majority of North Carolina delegates will glide home for the night the way they wish they could in the Triangle – by light rail.

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DENVER — The Democrats are trying to limit the size of their carbon footprint in the Mile-High City. That effort includes riding Denver's light rails.

Thousands of North Carolina delegates leaving the auditorium Tuesday night won't take taxis or drive cars to their hotels. That wouldn't be in keeping with the green theme of the Democratic National Convention.

Running parallel with eight lanes of Colorado interstates are two sets of rails that are getting a lot of praise from convention goers.

For more than a dozen years, people there have touched a screen, fed the machine, taken their ticket and hopped on light rail to get where they are going.

Among the North Carolina delegates testing it out was Pat Crawford. She often works for the state in downtown Raleigh.

“Some mornings, just to get to the Archdale Building, it takes 30 to 45 minutes – which is just ridiculous because there are thousands of cars trying to get downtown,” Crawford said of her morning commute.

Earlier in the day, several delegates packed into Denver's light rail to get a feel for what might someday work in Raleigh. Miles of these tracks are laid in this area, including a run to the airport. All ultimately meet at a hub in this state capital.

“This right here, the constant flow, people can get anywhere they want to go, at whatever time whether they work early or late or whatever. That is the convenience. Plus, it is fast. Buses aren't quite as fast as this rail system,” Crawford said.

The light rail is clean and efficient, but doesn't come without a cost. However, Crawford said she would gladly pay a tax for such a convenience.

"Absolutely I would pay it. I would gladly pay it, and all the people I know would because it is safe. Yes, I would be more than willing to pay," she said.

Colorado and Denver officials said communities have built up around the light rail stops and, over the past dozen years, have added billions of dollars to the Denver economy.

Check out how the light rail system works in Denver with a video from WRAL photojournalist Chad Flowers.