RTD’s New FlexRide Is a Suburban UberPool for the Price of a Bus Fare

RTD's new FlexRide service replaces Call-and-Ride.
RTD's new FlexRide service replaces Call-and-Ride. Photo: RTD.

Pull out your phone, book a trip, and within 10 minutes a van will pick you up and take you to a rail station, bus stop or other destination.

That’s the idea behind an upgrade to the Regional Transportation District’s Call-and-Ride service that agency officials introduced today at an event in Broomfield. Many FlexRide vehicles run like an Uber Pool or Lyft Line, picking up passengers where they are and taking them directly where they want to go. In some areas, the service follows a predetermined route that adjusts when people request a pickup.

RTD CEODave Genova announcing the new FlexRide service this morning in Broomfield. Photo: RTD.
RTD CEODave Genova announcing the new FlexRide service this morning in Broomfield. Photo: RTD.

“FlexRide … is RTD’s shared-ride bus service, available for anyone to connect to other RTD bus or train services,” says a blog post on the agency’s website. But the service goes beyond bridging first- and last-mile transit connections. “Riders can also use FlexRide to get direct access to schools, businesses or other amenities in communities without a fixed bus route.”

  • A map of RTD's FlexRide service areas.
    A map of RTD’s FlexRide service areas (larger version).

    Passengers who use the micro-transit service pay their usual RTD fare, which they can apply to transfers.

  • FlexRide replaces RTD’s Call-and-Ride service, which required a phone call and an hour wait.
  • Passengers can schedule regular pickups.
  • As RTD replaces its green Call-and-Ride shuttles, passengers will notice white vans with a colorful graphic treatment that references the mountains.
  • The service, which is available to everyone, compliments RTD’s Access-A-Ride service for people with disabilities.
  • Bicycles and wheelchairs are allowed.
  • Passengers can book rides on a mobile-friendly website: rtdcallnride.com/cnr-mobile, or continue to call ahead.

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Filed Under: RTD

  • iBikeCommute

    How much is RTD spending on this? I would like to know the cost per ride. In my biased opinion, RTD would get more bang for the buck by improving service in high density urban areas but I know there are political realities to regionalism.

    • iBikeCommute

      To expand- why should low density suburbs get transportation on demand but Cap Hill has to wait an hour to catch the 12 bus to get to the train station?

      • TakeFive

        FWIW, Denver far and away is the biggest beneficiary of RTD transit.

        Let me take a speculative perspective. Being aware of some of the national trends of what works and doesn’t, RTD may be looking towards a future where other than designated commuter Express routes, RTD stops offering Big Bertha service in the suburbs and replaces it with micro-transit which could be more effective and efficient – cost wise.

    • TakeFive

      I don’t happen to know their thinking but I can make a pretty good guess.

      You’re looking at undeserved areas to begin with. Some areas have complained about a lack of service; they pay RTD taxes but get no service. Second, RTD may be looking to offer this service in lieu of Big Bertha routes.

      • iBikeCommute

        The south and west suburbs are served by RTD. That’s why they spent tens of millions of dollars building the park and ride garages.

        • TakeFive

          Ah, I missed the bottom part of the map. So a piece would serve the DTC. That certainly makes sense; if this proves to be viable then I’ll guess that the business parks will end up be asked to cover a lot of or even most of the costs.

          Lone Tree is on its way to being one of the denser transit areas and has had their own micro transit which they’ve being happy with. Again it may be looking to a future marriage where Lone Tree lets RTD run the service but covers most of the costs.

  • EMB

    This isn’t an entirely new service, but I hope the rebranding and expansion of the former Call-n-Ride helps increase awareness of it. One place to start: large (very large!) signs at the light rail stations offering the service making it clear how it works. Also: a stack of flyers for every office building or apartment complex in these areas. It blows my coworkers’ minds every time I tell them that they don’t have to walk from the train station to our office if they don’t want to, or if they didn’t pack an umbrella or have extra stuff to carry that day, and it creates new riders.

    And I’ve saved a few obviously-coming-from-the-airport light rail travelers from hailing an Uber or Lyft at Belleview Station by pointing out the bus waiting right there to take them where they want to go, with no additional expense (or expense report entry). And it’s faster, since it’s basically just making the same loop with variations every few minutes, and the drivers have a much better grasp of hyper-local geography than the TNC drivers do. Don’t know the address, but do know the business you’re trying to get to? They can usually take you there with no additional questions.

    It’s not anything like as cost-effective as better general bus service would be, but since we built the rail line in a place that means it’s at least a half mile walk to almost any destination, it’s useful for those of us working in the SE suburbs. Some of the Call-n-Ride services were partly funded by local city and county governments, but I’m not sure which.