Members of the board that oversees the Regional Transportation District approved rail and bus service cuts at their virtual meeting Tuesday night.
The cuts go into effect on April 19, 2020. Ridership is down 70 percent since the coronavirus pandemic took hold and interim general manager Paul Ballard said implementing the plan will take time.
“This approach allows us to move to a reduced service level thoughtfully without being too reactionary,” he said. “This allows us to be calm and professional and do the necessary preparations to uphold confidence in the agency's ability to provide reliable service.”
Board members recommended Saturday levels of services for bus passengers and a Sunday level of service for rail passengers. RTD said they’ve gone from 347,000 riders per day in early March to about 100,000 per day due to both increased restrictions on mobility and the fact that many riders now work from home.
Boardmember Kate Williams expressed concern that the reduction isn't happening sooner.
“What other countries have learned, is that the sooner you can constrain mobility patterns the sooner you're able to contain this virus and limit the spread,” Williams said during the meeting.
Members of the board also discussed ways they could keep transit drivers safe by making sure riders maintain social distancing. They’ve provided nitrile gloves, hand sanitizer and sanitizing wipes to operators so they can clean their work stations before each shift. Board members say they’ve also stepped up cleaning of buses and rail cars. This is all in addition to providing updated information about COVID-19 to drivers.
The reduced level of service would last until September 2020, or on a case by case basis.
Some passengers, like Diana Miller, were allowed to join the virtual meeting and expressed concerns over the reduced ridership. She gets around in an electric scooter and is worried about not being able to do her grocery shopping.
“It’s kind of hard for me to get out and get to places that are far away,” she said during the public comment portion of the meeting.
RTD will receive some of the federal stimulus money that was just approved by congress.
"We do anticipate receiving funds, but at this time we aren’t sure how much," said RTD spokeswoman Pauletta Tonilas.