RTD Makes Plans For More Buses Where People Are Still Riding — And Cuts Where They Are Not

RTD Buses Trains Central Park Station Coronavirus
Hart Van Denburg/CPR News
The 28 bus headed to RTD’s Central Park Station, where there were only a few riders early Thursday morning April 9, 2020.

The Regional Transportation District is looking to tighten up its pandemic-era services.

While ridership has plummeted across its system since March, the declines have been most notable on its commuter-focused services to and from downtown Denver. So RTD staff are proposing the agency suspend or reduce some of those lines and redirect those resources to lines where more people are riding. 

Local bus lines carrying essential workers have been crowded during the pandemic.

"For every trip that we continue to provide carrying three or four passengers, we are going to be leaving passengers standing on Colfax,” RTD’s special projects director Bruce Abel told the agency’s board of directors in early August. 

RTD has limited the number of passengers allowed on each bus to allow for social distancing. More than $200 million in federal funding allowed RTD to run back-up buses where they are needed. But with that money running out, the agency now needs to rebalance its services to keep the most popular lines running.

Specifically, RTD wants to increase service on the 16 bus on West Colfax and the 31 on Federal Boulevard in Denver. The CS/CV between Pine Junction and Denver, the ES/EV between Evergreen and Denver, and the GS between Golden and Boulder would be suspended entirely. 

Staff are recommending those lines be replaced by van-pools organized by the Denver Regional Council of Governments, taxi vouchers or perhaps even an Uber/Lyft partnership. 

The 20, 51, 205, 225, 16th Street Mall shuttle, and the R light rail line would all see service reductions. The span of the H and W light rail lines would be reduced, though trains would run more often during certain periods. Other routes could see minor changes too, including the limited addition of some lines cut earlier in the pandemic. More details are in this document.

The RTD board will consider the changes at a meeting next Tuesday. Board members have said they don’t want the changes to be permanent.