The candidates appear here by incumbent first, then alphabetical by surname.
What's your elevator pitch for why voters should choose you?
Mihalik - Since 2017, RTD opened 3 new rail lines (R, G, N) and an extension into Lone Tree. This was unprecedented across the industry and came with its share of growing pains. Having been on the board these last 4 years, I had the privilege of being a part of that. However, the foreseeable future will look much different than it did before. And now we have the difficult job of managing contraction. As future schedules and services are developed, I believe I have the utmost responsibility to taxpayers, not only that money is stewarded wisely, but that a good amount of taxes should return from where they originated.
Bouquet - RTD is currently facing a budget crisis, a massive decrease in ridership and major staffing cuts. These are just a few of the many issues that have afflicted RTD in recent years. We need a leader who can create innovative solutions to solve these many problems while building a more efficient, more affordable and long-lasting public transportation network. As a teacher and as a frequent RTD rider, I know I can work with our community while understanding the importance of creating the best ride possible.
My wife and I were frequent RTD riders prior to the COVID pandemic. We were reliant on RTD during our college years. I used the E or F Line almost every day to get to either school or work. As a rider, I understand the importance of having an efficient transportation system that our local residents are dependent on. As a rider, I also understand the frustrations of high ticket fares and delayed trains. We need an RTD Director who is a rider, and who can empathize with all stakeholders. I would be a Director who understands the concerns of not only riders but of staff members. Hundreds of jobs are potentially at risk due to the mismanagement of the RTD budget. As Director, I would fight to protect the many drivers, operators, and mechanics who have dedicated a great amount of time and energy to RTD.
I am the best choice for RTD Director here in District G because I have the passion, the energy, and the understanding of what we as Colorado residents need from RTD in the coming years. I want to increase ridership. I want to increase rider and staff satisfaction. I want to fix this budget crisis. And I want to create a long-lasting and efficient RTD that the community can trust.
How would you define success for RTD?
Mihalik - It is going to look different depending on one's perspective. There are so many competing interests. From a board member perspective, I would list the following as imperative for success:
- Safe, reliable, courteous service Respected, protected and well-trained employees
- An engaged, energetic, effective General Manager
- Well maintained equipment and facilities
- There is much more that could be added, but without these, any success is not possible.
Bouquet - A successful RTD would mean a sustainable network that encourages ridership and considers the needs of all members of the community. We need to not only fight to grow ridership but retain ridership. RTD needs to be viewed by Coloradans as a reliable, trustworthy and enjoyable experience.
What should RTD prioritize as it tries to rebuild from the coronavirus pandemic?
Mihalik - I think the work that falls under the umbrella of 'Reimagine RTD' should be a priority. There is much to it, and it affects most of the agency. It is meant to be a blank canvas, ground up redesign of the system. It became even more complex for example, after the unforeseen declines in sales tax collections and ridership along with dramatic shifts in commuting, school and entertainment needs this year. The scale of this effort is enormous, it includes collaboration and working effectively with stakeholders at many levels.
Bouquet - As a Director, one of my first priorities would be to spearhead an effective information campaign for our general public. This would mean advising riders that it is safe to ride as long as they wear a mask and social distance during their trip. This information campaign needs to be paired with a lowering of fares. We are one of the most expensive public transportation networks in the entire country, and during a period of recovery we need to make ticket prices competitive with other forms of transportation. We need to encourage and grow ridership to make RTD more sustainable for the long run.
What is your personal experience and expertise in transit?
Mihalik - Prior to this last term, my experience was limited. My motivation for getting on the board was born out of skepticism. Having been there 4 years, I'm significantly more sympathetic, and knowledgeable given all that I have experienced and learned. .
Bouquet - Prior to the COVID pandemic, my wife and I were frequent users of RTD. Throughout college, we relied heavily on light rail and bus operations to get us to and from work and school. Based on personal experience. I empathize with riders when discussing fare prices, and the overall efficiency of our routes. I understand the needs of riders because I am a rider.
How much should RTD weigh potential climate impacts in its decision-making?
Mihalik - RTD has one of, if not, the largest electric bus fleets in the U.S. Whether it's electric, CNG, or latest diesel technology, emission impact is evaluated when selecting new buses.
Bouquet - With a growing population in Colorado, heavy traffic contributes to increased air pollution. We need more of our residents using public transportation so we can decrease the amount of vehicles on the run which will ultimately decrease air pollution. Public transportation networks are a major source of fighting against air pollution and stopping traffic congestion. Climate impacts should be crucial in decision-making because climate sustainability is heavily related to transportation.
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