Jul 28, 2022 - News

RTD advances plan to overhaul bus system, focusing on Denver

Passengers board an RTD bus on Denver's Federal Boulevard in December 2021. Photo: Hyoung Chang/MediaNews Group/The Denver Post via Getty Images

The Regional Transportation District, which serves eight Denver metro counties, is moving forward with a major plan to optimize and restore service by 2027.

Why it matters: The decision, approved by board members Tuesday, marks the most significant overhaul of the bus system in roughly 50 years, CPR reports.

  • It also means the eight-county transit system will shift its focus to one: Denver.

Details: The incremental five-year strategy is designed to boost ridership, improve transit performance and efficiency, and adapt routes to changing travel needs resulting from the pandemic.

  • The plan β€” in the works for two years β€” focuses on high-ridership areas near the Mile High City, rather than the suburbs.
  • The network overhaul also includes a social equity lens, with a priority on improving transit to areas with large low-income and minority populations.

By the numbers: Transit officials are still determining how much the plans will cost. The board will approve total spend for the project this September, RTD spokesperson Marta Sipeki tells Axios Denver.

  • RTD is largely funded by a 1% sales tax collected across its service area β€” which includes all or part of Denver, Boulder, Adams, Arapahoe, Jefferson, Broomfield and Douglas counties β€” along with fare revenue and state and federal grants.

The other side: Denver's downtown boosters say the plan doesn't go far enough to meet the city's climate and transit safety goals.

  • "Now more than ever we need leaders, not just in RTD, but at the local, state and federal levels to come to the table and get public transit back on track and identify additional resources for RTD," Molly Mckinley, policy director for the Denver Streets Partnership, told the board Tuesday.

Of note: Local transit leaders hope that RTD's August fare-free month will increase exposure and build momentum not only for ridership but for future funding proposals, including potentially asking voters to raise taxes for the agency.


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