RTD buses wait in traffic on East Colfax Ave. on Dec. 12. Photo: Andy Bosselman

Tuesday’s Headlines

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From Streetsblog

  • RTD is in Crisis: Part 1. People in the Denver Metro are ditching public transportation as a growing list of problems at the Regional Transportation District have become a full-blown crisis. (Streetsblog Denver)

Other news

  • Police identified Barbara W. Williams as the driver who hit and seriously injured a CDOT worker. (Denver7, Denver Post)
  • RTD cancelled buses and more than 80 light rail trips yesterday as it implemented service changes related to its driver shortage. (Denver Post)
  • Eulois Cleckley, head of Denver’s DOTI, was named vice president of the board of NACTO, the professional organization for city transportation officials. (NACTO)
  • Denver Air Quality Index: 6 a.m.: 62 Moderate. Yesterday’s max: 56 Moderate.
  • National headlines at Streetsblog USA.

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RTD buses wait in traffic on East Colfax Ave. on Dec. 12. Photo: Andy Bosselman

RTD is in Crisis: Part 1

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This is the first in a three-part series about the crisis at RTD and how the governor and state legislature should fix it. 


People in the Denver Metro are ditching public transportation as a growing list of problems at the Regional Transportation District have become a full-blown crisis. Now is the time for Gov. Jared Polis and state legislators to own up to their role in the agency’s problems — and step up to offer help.

In 2018, 6 million fewer trips happened on Regional Transportation District buses and trains than in 2014. The decline in ridership continued in 2019, according to the agency’s reporting

Many former transit riders moved into private cars and SUVs, cramming more vehicles onto roads already congested after Denver’s population grew by 20 percent over the last decade. 

When you consider Denver’s goal to ease traffic congestion and cut greenhouse gas emissions by reducing the number of trips where people drive alone, RTD’s falling ridership should be seen as an urgent failure. Especially knowing that use of public transportation is growing in cities around the world, including in Portland, Seattle and Salt Lake City.

RTD’s riders can’t be blamed for finding other options.

They have been left waiting for vehicles that never arrived as the agency’s drivers quit their jobs faster than they can be replaced. RTD has repeatedly been forced to cut service, which has made the system less useful to the people who want to use it. The agency charges some of the highest fares in the country. And a discount program used by many thousands was replaced with a new system so confusing and complicated that only 2,767 people have successfully signed up since July.

RTD’s leaders also refuse to consider critical ridership information that could make the system more useful to larger numbers of people without raising costs. 

And these are not the agency’s only problems. 

RTD is forced to operate with a budget that can’t keep up with growing needs. It’s CEO resigned. Governor Polis said nothing about public transportation in his State of the State address last week. And the Colorado General Assembly, which created RTD 50 years ago, is now largely made up of politicians who want no responsibility for the agency’s problems. Worse, some in the legislature’s leadership are spreading lies and openly expressing hostility toward RTD. 

Add up the agency’s numerous problems and it’s clear: RTD is in crisis.

Check Streetsblog for Part 2 of this series, where I will call out Governor Jared Polis and the state legislature for a failure of leadership. I’ll also discuss why it may be time to disband RTD’s board of directors.


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Monday’s Headlines

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  • Boulder police identified Dean Cunningham as the 85-year-old man who was hit and killed by an RTD bus. (Daily Camera)
  • Police arrested the driver suspected of hitting and seriously injuring a CDOT worker before fleeing the scene. (9 News)
  • A ban on mobile phone use except when a hands-free device is used was again introduced in the state legislature. (Denver Post)
  • Denver DOTI adjusted downtown traffic signal timing to improve the flow of cars and people on foot and on bikes. (9 News)
  • The Cherry Creek Mall eliminated free parking. (CBS4)
  • More on the “Save The 99L” petition to keep an RTD bus route. (CBS4)
  • Aurora approved a potential development of single-family homes within half a mile of DIA, despite the airport warning them not to. (Denver Post)
  • The new Poudre Express bus will connect Greeley, Windsor and Fort Collins. Fares are free this month. (North Forty News)
  • Winter Park could open its new transit center as soon as next month. It will serve as a hub for local buses, the ski train and Bustang. (Sky-Hi News)
  • Denver Air Quality Index: 6 a.m.: 56 Moderate. Yesterday’s max: 56 Moderate.
  • National headlines at Streetsblog USA.

We’re a nonprofit and we rely on the donations of our fans and readers. Give $10, $25 or $50 now.


The Winter Park Express ski train rests on Track 5 at Union Station last night. The seasonal Amtrak service started this morning. Photo: Andy Bosselman

Friday’s Headlines

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State of the State

  • In his State of the State address, Governor Polis called for increased transportation funding — but said nothing about improving walking, biking or public transit. (Denver Post, CPRColorado Sun (annotated full text), full text)
  • 25 climate demonstrators interrupted the event with calls to regulate the oil and gas industry and to end fracking. Several protestors were physically dragged out of the gallery in handcuffs. (CPR, Denver Post)

RTD

  • The driver of an RTD bus hit and killed a pedestrian on Baseline Road in Boulder yesterday. (Fox 31)
  • RTD will start providing light rail cancellation notices online and via email today. (Denver Post)
  • RTD announces five finalists for its interim general manager and CEO. (CPR, Denver Post)
  • The RTD board of directors elected Angie Rivera-Malpiede as its chair. She is the first Latina to hold the position. (Colorado Politics)

Other news

  • 71 people were killed on Denver streets in 2019 — here’s where. (Denverite)
  • City crews started installing inexpensive traffic calming devices at 15 intersections along the Colfax corridor to enhance safety for drivers, bicyclists and pedestrians. The initiative will cost the city $120,000. (Denver7)
  • The Winter Park Express ski train starts operating today. Once a weekend-only service, it will now operate on Fridays, too. (Denver Post)
  • An L.A. Times travel writer recommends skiers take the Winter Park Express or Amtrak’s California Zephyr. (Los Angeles Times)
  • Denver Air Quality Index: 6 a.m.: 40 Good. Yesterday’s max: 44 Good.
  • National headlines at Streetsblog USA.

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Thursday’s Headlines

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From Streetsblog

Other news

  • 8,500: Minimum number of impaired driving arrests in Colorado last year. (Denver Post)
  • 150 years: The time it will take Denver to inspect its crumbling and missing sidewalks. (Denver Post)
  • Old transportation fights are brewing ahead of Colorado’s new legislative session. And little new funding is in play. [Also: Where are the dedicated lanes for pogo sticks Republican leader Patrick Neville speaks of?] (Colorado Sun)
  • The owner of Turin Bicycles, Denver’s oldest bike shop, is unloading gear ahead of the shop’s closure. (BusinessDen)
  • See RTD’s January 12 service changes. (RTD)
  • Commuters launched a petition to keep RTD’s West Denver 100L route, which is set to be cut in response to the agency’s driver shortage. (Change.org)
  • RTD’s board of directors chose new leaders. (Progressive Railroading)
  • More on the private effort to bring the RTD’s B Line to Boulder and Longmont. (CBS4)
  • A developer proposed a seven-story hotel near an RTD station in RiNO. (Denver Business Journal)
  • Denver Infill: A roundup of the last decade in new residential and non-residential buildings.
  • Denver Air Quality Index: 6 a.m.: 44 Good. Yesterday’s max: 49 Good.
  • National headlines at Streetsblog USA.

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