When Denver’s Transit Riders Needed It The Most, RTD’s Real-Time Schedule Site Went Down

Denver Aurora Snow Storm October 29 2019
Hart Van Denburg/CPR News
Passengers board an A Line train at Peoria station. A second day of snow swept across the Front Range on Tuesday October 29.

Knowing when the next bus or train is coming is even more important than usual when you're waiting in a snowstorm, like the one that smacked the Front Range Tuesday.

But Regional Transportation District riders has their collective patience tested early today when the transit agency's real-time schedule website, NextRide, went down. Real-time data that feeds Google Maps and the Transit app also went dark, as did the schedule pages on RTD's website.

"You absolutely have to find a meaningful way to communicate rider alerts — Next Ride doesn't work, the stations themselves are incapable, and the drivers have no idea — leaving your customers to guess," one rider tweeted at RTD during the height of the morning rush. "Been riding 12+ years and its never been this bad with communication."

RTD spokeswoman Tina Jaquez said the NextRide site saw a "substantially" higher volume of traffic this morning.

"We found that our server that houses the applications was overloaded," Jaquez said in an email.

That server has since been resized to accommodate more users. NextRide and other scheduling tools were back online as of about 1:30 p.m. Tuesday. Jaquez said riders should also look to the agency's Twitter account and rider alert emails for current information.

Beyond informational issues, RTD's system had a number of other setbacks Tuesday. A frozen switch at Union Station affected some C and E light rail trains, but that was fixed shortly after 8:30 a.m. And there was a higher-than-normal number of call-offs by drivers across the RTD system that left the agency short-staffed, Jaquez said.

Many buses were behind scheduled by 5-30 minutes, Jaquez said, with longer delays on lines to mountain towns like Evergreen and Nederland. But all things considered, Jaquez said, such delays are typical during bad-weather days like today.

"Our goal is to get people to their destinations safely on days like this and sometimes that takes extra time," she wrote.