Survey Finds RTD Customers Will ‘Wait To See’ Before Getting Back On Board

RTD bus on Broadway in Boulder
Hart Van Denburg/CPR News
An RTD bus on Broadway in Boulder, Monday, May 18, 2018.

About two-thirds of the Regional Transportation District’s riders say they will “wait to see what happens with coronavirus” before they begin using the service again.

That’s according to RTD’s online, anonymous survey of 2,662 people in early May. Results from such surveys should be taken with a grain of salt as they don’t meet scientific standards like ensuring a random sample. That can mean that results may overrepresent some views and underrepresent others. 

However, the results provide one timely datapoint for the agency as it tries to chart its comeback after the coronavirus decimated its ridership and budget.

“The results align with those emerging in surveys of other industries. During this uncertain time, people naturally want to feel as safe as possible, and they want to know that RTD is doing all we can on their behalf,” interim RTD CEO Paul Ballard said in a press release.

Only 18 percent of survey respondents said they thought riding RTD was safe during the pandemic. That’s less than every other activity the survey asked about, including visiting friends, a grocery store, and exercising outside.

RTD's survey of its customers show many don't think its safe to ride buses and trains.

Respondents also said a significant decrease in COVID-19 cases and a vaccine would help them feel safer on RTD, in addition to measures the district has already put in place like limits on passengers and a stepped-up cleaning of vehicles. While the number of hospitalized COVID-19 patients has dropped, case numbers have ticked up some with increased testing and mobility.

“We respect that certain factors the public noted are beyond our control, and that they will feel comfortable returning to transit at different times, depending upon factors that are unique to their lives,” Ballard said.

While RTD estimates its ridership has dropped about 70 percent since the pandemic hit Colorado in March, buses on certain popular routes are routinely full enough that Ballard announced at a board meeting this week that the agency would add more runs by week’s end.