RTD’s Light Rail Meltdown Today Took Some Riders By Surprise. Here’s How To Avoid That Next Time

Hart Van Denburg/CPR News
RTD light rail trains at the Broadway station August 2019.

Early Wednesday morning, the power went out on RTD's E, F, H and R lines from the Belleview to University of Denver stations — an important corridor for commuters headed into the city or to the Tech Center.

The rush hour that followed was not pretty, as emergency shuttle buses struggled to keep up and trains were delayed:

Unplanned outages like this don't happen often, said RTD spokeswoman Lisa Trujillo. "But when they do, they are impactful," she said. "So it's important to us to get word out to our passengers as soon as possible. "

And that's where a second breakdown happened, many stranded passengers said on Twitter. They didn't know about the power outages and the major delays that resulted.

RTD is limited in how it gets real-time information out to passengers. Its mobile ticketing app doesn't send push notifications about disruptions. It can't send rider alert texts. Its Facebook account didn't mention today's outages. Its real-time location website is limited. It sometimes sends press releases to local media, but often the issues are resolved before reporters can get a story published.

RTD can also make announcements via signs at each light rail station, but those weren't working this morning. The agency is investigating why.

So where does that leave passengers who want to avoid the next commute from hell? RTD says it's releasing a new rider alert system in the next few months. In the meantime, here are your best bets:

  • Email rider alerts. Sign up for every route you use on a regular basis. This is probably your best bet for the most consistently delivered information. If you're technologically inclined, you can set up a system that will automatically forward these emails to your phone as a text message.
  • Follow @RideRTD on Twitter. RTD's social team does yeoman's work getting information out. But the volume can be overwhelming, and not all that relevant to your specific commute. Still, it's worth checking for the latest.

As far as Wednesday's incident goes, Trujillo said the power issues were fixed and the evening commute should go more smoothly. "Thank you for patiently waiting through the delays," she said. "We appreciate our passengers."