1969Courtesy Denver Public Library Western History Collection Archives, Denver Post (1969, November 9, p.30)
RTD Begins Operations
RTD begins operations. John Fleming Kelly becomes first chairman of the RTD Board of Directors, which is apprised of 21 appointed Directors. Efforts in early years focus on regional transportation planning.
Approval Received to Finance Transit System
RTD seeks voter approval to collect sales taxes to finance the local share in design, construction, and operation of a $1.56 billion multi-modal transit system. Approximately 57% of voters approve ballot proposal for a .5% sales tax to support $425 million in revenue bonds.
RTD Begins Consolidation of Regional Transit Providers
Over the course of the year, RTD acquires Evergreen Transit, Longmont Mini, Denver Metro Transit (including 321 buses), Englewood-Littleton-Ft. Logan service, Boulder City, Public Service and Northglenn Suburban Service. The new regional system abolished fare zones, created 17 new local or express routes and extended 20 existing routes.
Platte Division Opens
The Platte Division opens on June 2. This $9.6 million facility sits on 5.88 acres and maintains 252 buses.
1978Courtesy Denver Public Library Western History Collection Archives, Rocky Mountain News (1978, July 6)
RTD Commits to Accessibility
The Gang of 19 lies down in front of buses and barricades themselves around two buses at Colfax and Broadway for two days in protest of RTD busses not being wheelchair accessible. This event propelled RTD and disability rights movement into a global conversation about disabilities rights, leading to what is now known as the Americans with Disabilities Act.
Catch the Ride
In 1979, “Catch the Ride” receives the first place award for a complete campaign in the American Public Transit Association’s inaugural “Ad Wheels” awards. This campaign uses radio, television, ads, posters, maps, brochures, buttons, and records to encourage the use of public transit. The campaign’s slogan, “the spirit of the ride is catching on,” encourages utilizing other forms of transportation beyond single-occupancy vehicles.
Voters Approve Elected Board of Directors
In November, voters approved the creation of an elected Board of Directors for RTD. The Board will feature 15 Directors representing districts apportioned by equal population.
Blake Headquarters Construction Completes
Construction of the Blake Street administration building is completed. The project combined the Davis, Cresswell, and Company building (built in 1882) with the Occidental Hotel (built in 1886). The architecture firm, Dominick Associates, earns the first design award in the nation for commercial remodeling that innovatively links the two buildings with a four-story open atrium.
16th Street Mall Opens
The 16th Street Pedestrian Mall is completed and Free MallRide service begins on October 4. Designed by world-renowned architecture firm I.M. Pei & Partners, the mall features 283,000 square feet of granite pavers in colors of red, light gray, and slate to mirror a Western diamondback’s skin. Over 200,000 visitors come to the ceremonial parade.
Market Street Station Opens
In March, Market Street Station opens on the 16th Street Mall. It provides 23 express and regional bus routes to northern and western portions of the District. Over 9,500 passengers utilize the facility each weekday. This station reduces bus travel times because vehicles no longer have to navigate the Central Business District during peak times.
HOV Lanes Open on I-25
In September, Downtown Express high-occupancy vehicle (HOV) lanes open along I-25. They relieve congestion by allowing carpools, vanpools, and buses to use those dedicated lanes.
Call-n-Ride Service Begins
The first Call-n-Ride service starts in March. This service provides customers in areas with limited access to transit to connect to various locations in their communities including schools, shopping centers, and workplaces.
Purchase of Union Station
RTD, the City and County of Denver, Colorado Department of Transportation, and Denver Regional Council of Governments jointly purchase Union Station for $49.75 million. For its part, RTD plans to use the station as a transit hub for busses, MallRide, and light rail.
Central Platte Valley Line Opens
C Line light rail service starts along the Central Platte Valley corridor in April. The line serves passengers at Pepsi Center, Mile High stadium, and Auraria West for Metro State University and Community College of Denver areas. MallRide service is expanded from Market Street Station to Union Station to provide a more direct connection to the C Line.
FasTracks Transit Approved by Voters
The FasTracks ballot measure is approved by voters in the region in November. This approval paves the way for ambitious transit projects including light rail service to Golden (W Line), commuter rail between downtown Denver and Denver International Airport (University of Colorado A Line), commuter rail service to northern metro areas (B and N Lines), renovating Union Station, providing Flatiron Flyer Service along U.S. 36, and the R Line through Aurora.
Construction of T-REX
Substantial construction of T-REX is completed in August. Though the use of an innovative process, RTD and CDOT are able to design and construct simultaneously. T-REX is completed 22 months ahead of schedule and $3.7 million under budget.
Southeast Light Rail Opens
Southeast Light rail opens along the Southeast Corridor as the E, F and H Lines in November. These lines now provide 19-miles of rail to areas around County Line, Lincoln, and Nine Mile.Learn More
Workforce Initiative Now Receives Presidential Recognition
RTD’s Workforce Initiative Now program is honored by the White House as a “Transportation Innovator Champion of Change.” RTD received this designation for providing exemplary leadership in the growth and expansion of transit at the regional level.
W Line Opens
The West Rail Line, or W Line, to Golden opens. It connects the Jefferson County Government Center to downtown Denver.Learn More
Union Station Reopens as the Union Station Transit Center
The newly renovated and expanded Union Station opens as Denver Union Station Transit Center. It now serves as a hub for light rail, commuter rail, bus, Free MallRide, and Free MetroRide service. It now also offers a hotel, shops and restaurants.Learn More
Flatiron Flyer Connects the North Metro Area to Denver
Flatiron Flyer service begins along U.S. 36. This service connects the northern part of the metro area along that corridor to Union Station, Civic Center Station, and the Anschutz Medical Campus.Learn More
University of Colorado A Line Opens
On April 22, the University of Colorado A line commuter rail service opens, which enables riders to travel between Union Station and Denver International Airport in only 37 minutes. There are approximately 24,000 boardings daily.Learn More
B Line Opens for Service
B Line commuter rail service from Westminster to Union Station begins on July 25, allowing riders to travel downtown in only 15 minutes.Learn More
Electric MallRide Shuttles Introduced
All electric Free MallRide shuttle fleet is introduced. The previous fleet was retired after 17 years of service and logging over 200,000 miles each.Learn More
Opening of R Line
The R Line opens, providing rail service from Denver, through the heart of Aurora, down to Lone Tree. The new line provides easy connections to the University of Colorado A Line to enable riders to go to Union Station or Denver International Airport.Learn More
Opening of L Line Downtown Loop
The L Line Loop opens in January, thus separating from the D Line to provide better service on the two segments that serve the 18th & Stout and 30th & Downing areas.Learn More
RTD launches Transportation Transformation (T2) during the Transportation Transformation Summit on September 13. T2 is RTD’s plan forward to address how as the region’s mobility integrator future transportation needs will be met via fiscal and financial stability, systems operations analysis, and mobility planning.
RTD Launches Autonomous Shuttle
RTD launches first autonomous public transit vehicle in Colorado with the 61AV shuttle at the Panasonic Complex near the 61st and Peoria transit station as part of its Transportation Transformation initiative. This project has the fundamental goal of determining whether autonomous vehicle service is applicable to a transit application.Learn More
Call-n-Ride becomes FlexRide
In January, Call-n-Ride is rebranded as FlexRide and offers more flexible routing and scheduling options to serve as a first/last mile solution for riders in areas with less connectivity to RTD service.Learn More
Uber Transit Collaboration
RTD becomes the first public transit agency to collaborate with Uber to provide comprehensive journey planning, including purchase of RTD tickets, all in one application. This collaboration provides Denver area riders with even more avenues for connections throughout the metro area.Learn More
New Fleet of Light Rail Vehicles
A new fleet of light rail vehicles is put into service in March after the vendor completed all required commissioning tests and passed vigorous safety inspections. The new trains feature “knee-to-back” and “flip” seating to make more room for wheelchair docking.
Southeast Rail Extension Opens
Service will be extended along the E, F, and R Lines into the Sky Ridge, Lone Tree City Center, and Ridge Gate areas on May 19. With the addition of the three stops comes 1,300 new parking spaces.Learn More
We have more exciting things happening this year, so check back often to see how this timeline is expanded.
Marked photos courtesy of the Denver Public Library Western History collections. Photos may not be used without permission.