RTD Director Menten: $15 Million for Transit? No Thanks, Spend It on Roads

RTD Director Natalie Menten

You’d think the leaders of RTD would want to shepherd the Denver area’s transit system into the modern era, but RTD board member Natalie Menten would rather see Colorado transportation dollars go toward highways than transit.

Menten, who represents parts of Wheat Ridge, Lakewood, and Golden, told Complete Colorado that transit doesn’t deserve the $15 million it gets each year from legislation passed in 2009, nicknamed “FASTER.” A bill is up for debate in the State Senate, where some lawmakers want to give all the funding to roads.

More from Complete Colorado:

Dennis Polhill of Golden noted that CDOT traffic counts aren’t reduced, and sometimes increase, when parallel light rail is opened. Therefore more money should go to highways.

Natalie Menten, a director of the Regional Transportation District but speaking for herself, echoed that theme. She said the extra $15 million at issue should go to highways, not mass transit, because 100 percent of the population uses roads, and less than 5 percent use RTD. CDOT’s current budget is about $1.4 billion, she said, while RTD’s is $1.1 billion — way out of proportion to RTD’s usefulness.

Apparently Menten thinks RTD is flush with money and has reached the pinnacle of transit service. She should tell that to her agency’s customers, many of whom can’t get where they need to go as bus service shrinks, all while fares get more expensive. The RTD Board is supposedly looking for a way to offer income-based fares to impoverished riders, but hasn’t found enough money in the couch cushions. Don’t expect Menten to help.

FASTER raises about $200 million a year from vehicle registration and rental car fees. Transit receives less than 8 percent of that — for the entire state — with the rest going to roads. Over the years RTD has used $4 million in FASTER funds to replace downtown circulator buses, for example, while Denver used $5 million to rehab Union Station. This year, most of the money got divvied up between Bustang, the regional bus service, and transit vehicles and programs, like service for the elderly in rural and suburban areas.

This isn’t the first time Menten has undermined her agency’s mission. Last year she came out against walkable, compact, transit-oriented development in her suburban district. Menten’s attitude toward transit is alarming given her influential position. Instead of pushing RTD forward, she seems to be fixed on holding it back.

Filed Under: RTD

  • Charles Buscemi

    I dont know what the requirements are to get this position but clearly she is unqualified. I love how some of our transit “leaders” are seemingly against transit.. what a country

    • David Sachs

      It’s an elected position. Voters elect the RTD board.

      • Charles Buscemi

        wow, then i am part of the problem as i didnt realize that. Thanks for the info.. this is something ill pay more attention to going forward when it comes time to vote.

    • Paul Antony

      She’s a small-government libertarian advocate whose candidacy for the RTD Board was in no small part due to the Independence Institute. Think of her as Jon Caldera’s successor without the charm.

  • HumanInDenver

    Her comment that 100% of the population uses highways is factually wrong. What about those residents who are too old or young to drive, or those who either can’t afford or choose not to own a personal automobile.

    • mckillio

      The argument would be that items and services they use, at some point travel along the highway system.

      • neroden

        Which is bullshit.

        • Véronique Bellamy

          Especially if it’s a train. Sure, as a Longmont resident, there’s a significant leg of my morning commute that involves taking I-25 to Union Station on the LNX. But when I get to Union Station, it’s the train the rest of the way to the DTC. 🙂

          Now, imagine how much more traffic will be relieved if us Longmonters (that’s the right word, per the Times-Call) could take a train all the way. Same with Boulderites, Broomfielders, etc.

  • Bjorn Swenson

    That’s incredibly inapproapriate for you to be commenting on her looks and intellect instead of her positions. Society needs more women to go into the male-dominated transportation field, but you seem intent on pushing them away.

    Shame on you for your clear sexism!

    • gwats1957

      I did call her dumb first…. cut me some slack…… calling her ugly was clearly an afterthought… and on second thought…. I’ll stand by that comment, but I’ll change it to…… ‘visually challenged’……

    • Véronique Bellamy

      Exactly. I know I’m not a looker, but I’m running for my local RTD Board position because the incompetent chucklehead that currently has the position is doing a piss poor job.

  • gwats1957

    She has no business on the Board if she can’t use good common sense, period…. She needs to resign immediately…….


    • Véronique Bellamy

      Well, she seems to be running again so I hope I can oust her. 🙂


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