The Denver International Airport Automated Guideway Transit System is a people mover system operating at Denver International Airport in Denver, Colorado. The system opened along with the airport itself in 1995, and was conceived as a means to connect all of the midfield concourses with the south terminal and quickly transport passengers between them because of the longer distances between each building, especially when compared to Stapleton International Airport, Denver's former airport.
Located within the secure areas of the airport, the AGTS utilizes two mile-long tunnels traveling underneath the aircraft taxiways and passing through the center on the concourse buildings. Four stations exist, serving each airside concourse (Concourses A, B, and C) and the Terminal (which serves Ground Transportation and Baggage Claim). While it is possible to walk from the main terminal to Concourse A via a pedestrian bridge over the taxiway, the train is the only way for the public to access Concourses B and C.
The cars themselves ride on rubber wheels and roll along a concrete track. Each station has an island platform, and the Terminal station also includes additional side platforms on the outside of each track. In accordance with the Spanish solution, when a train arrives at the Terminal, the outboard doors open first to allow arriving passengers to exit before inboard doors then open, allowing departing passengers to board. At the Terminal station, trains reverse direction, and use a switch at a crossover located just north of the station to switch into the northbound tunnel. As of April 2017, the trains now reverse at a crossover located south of the main terminal station. This new configuration allows more trains to enter and exit the terminal station at an expedited pace. Crossover tracks also exist between each station, so traffic can be routed around stalled or disabled trains if necessary. A maintenance facility is located just beyond the Concourse C station, which is also where trains reverse at the north end.
Nearly one percent of the construction budget for Denver International Airport was dedicated to artwork and art installations. The AGTS is home to three of the airport's art installations.
"Train Call" is an audio installation on the AGTS that includes a variety of short musical sound effects and jingles that precede the system's pre-recorded warning announcements, which are delivered by well known voice talent from the Denver area. Train Call was recorded by sound artist Jim Green, who is also known for recording the audio for the singing sinks in the restrooms at the Denver Art Museum, the "Laughing Escalators" at the Denver Convention Center, and the "Musical Warning Beacons" on the baggage carousels at Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport.
The current edition of Train Call, which debuted in 2007, features the voices of former Coors Field announcer Alan Roach, and local KUSA-TV anchor Adele Arakawa. The two voices are configured so only one of the voices delivers information inside any given vehicle, with the two voices split amongst the system's fleet. Each individual announcement is preceded by its own sound effect with most messages having separate sound effects depending on which voice delivers it. Electric guitar sound effects tend to accompany messages with Alan Roach's voice, while Adele Arakawa's voice is generally accompanied by Hammond organ sound effects. A piano sound effect accompanies the warning when the doors close regardless of which voice delivers it. The station platforms are configured so that one voice delivers information for trains on one side of the platform, while the other voice delivers information for the other side.
In addition to Arakawa and Roach, passengers are welcomed to Denver by the voice of Mayor Michael Hancock prior to arriving at the Terminal and Baggage Claim station. His welcome includes portions in both Spanish and English. Former mayors John Hickenlooper and Bill Vidal delivered the welcome message during their respective tenures as Mayor of Denver. The welcome greeting has been delivered by other notable locals during special events, such as in 2014 and 2016 when Denver Broncos advanced to the Super Bowl, where a recording by Champ Bailey was used, or a recording by skier Lindsey Vonn during the 2014 Winter Olympics. During the 2014 Winter Olympics, a recording by Lindsey Vonn was used, saying, "Welcome to Denver. This is Lindsey Vonn of Vail, Colorado. Let's cheer for our Olympic team this month in Sochi, Russia, and the 2015 Alpine World Ski Championships coming to Colorado next year. I'm especially proud of my fellow Coloradans for competing for the gold at the Winter Olympics. Go USA!"
The original edition of Train Call, which played prior to 2007 and was also recorded by Jim Green, featured the voices of local radio broadcaster Pete Smythe and former KCNC-TV anchor Reynelda Muse, who is notable for being the first woman and first African American to anchor a television news program in Colorado. The sound effects that accompanied the original voices mostly came from bells and woodwind instruments and were based on western folk songs, such as "She'll Be Coming 'Round the Mountain" and "Home on the Range."
The original edition of Train Call was ultimately retired due to the need to update the outdated wording of the messages, with the most noticeable change being the reference to the concourse stations. The original audio announced "This train is approaching Concourse A," where it now says "We are approaching the station for all 'A' Gates." Station signage was also changed to reflect this. Some information regarding Baggage Claim monitors in the Terminal station also caused confusion and needed to be removed from the messages, since the monitors themselves were removed from the station years prior.
The northbound tunnel features a visual art installation known as the "Kinetic Light Air Curtain." Designed by Antonette Rosato and William Maxwell, the exhibit includes 5,280 propellers mounted on the wall. The propellers are accented with blue fluorescent light, and wind from the trains causes some of them to spin as they pass by. The number of propellers represents the number of feet Denver (the mile-high city) is located above sea level. Also, the total number of blades of all of the propellers combined represents the height of Colorado's tallest fourteener, Mount Elbert, which is 14,440 feet tall. Contrary to common belief, the propellers do not generate any electricity for the trains or any part of the airport, and are strictly decorative.
The southbound tunnel contains the exhibit "Deep Time, Deep Space: A Subterranean Journey." Designed by Leni Schwendinger, this art display primarily consists of over 5,000 feet of colored reflective metal strips arranged into a variety of images. Various other items, sheet metal cut-outs of pick axes and hammers stand out from the tunnel walls to accent the scenes. The exhibit gradually transitions from displaying examples of older technology to newer space-age technology. The art is lighted by an advanced lighting system, which is activated by photoelectric sensors which detect passing trains. The overall work is inspired by Colorado's industrial and mining history.
The AGTS project was announced publicly in October 1992 at a cost of $84 million, and it opened with the airport on February 28, 1995. The initial system consisted of 16 cars that were paired together in groups of four to traverse the length of the tunnel.
Six more vehicles were added to the system by 1995, and an additional five were added in 2001. Today, the fleet consists of 31 Bombardier Innovia APM 100 vehicles, which have a maximum capacity of 100 passengers. Trains generally run at 1.5 minute intervals during peak times resulting in an 11-minute travel time from end to end.
The train system is essential for the airport to function at its full capacity since it provides the only passenger access to Concourses B and C. In rare instances of the train system being out of service, shuttle buses have been used. While the system is highly reliable, one major system failure took place on April 26, 1998. A routing cable in the train tunnel was damaged by a loose wheel on one of the trains, cutting the entire system's power. The system was out of service for about seven hours. United Airlines, DIA's largest airline (who operates a large hub out of Concourse B), reported that about 30 percent of their flights and about 5,000 passengers were affected by the failure. The day of the failure is now referred to as "Black Sunday" by airport personnel.