The 25-member working group convened in March 2017 to evaluate RTD’s pass programs is approaching the end of its yearlong effort. The group meets one final time, on February 27, 2018, to work through the details of a consensus recommendation to be offered to the agency’s senior leadership team, then to the board of directors for consideration. With board approval, the earliest the public could experience any change resulting from the group’s recommendation would be early 2019, a year after the study had concluded.
Individuals involved in the pass program study include members of RTD staff and external stakeholders with connections to regional interest groups. Participants in the study have been asked to consider eight guiding principles in their work: brand loyalty, convenience, cost-effectiveness, equitable access, increased ridership, an ability to meet strategic budget plan targets, revenue certainty and simplifying rider-operator interactions.
Over the last year, the group formulated several options, all of which were modeled by a consultant for their impact on total fare revenue and ridership. At this point, group members are exploring an option that retains EcoPass, Neighborhood EcoPass, CollegePass, and the nonprofit program and also adds a low-income pass and a youth pass. They have now turned their attention to the prices, discounts and surcharges associated with each pass program.Pass program working group members View the latest report to RTD’s board of directors, February 6, 2018
The purpose of the study is to evaluate RTD’s existing pass programs, including equity and underlying policies, and recommend whether new pass programs are needed.
The pass program study includes the following steps:
- Revisiting and refining goals for each pass program
- Refining pricing and administration of each pass program
- Recommending pass program policy revisions
- Recommending criteria for RTD to use in evaluating future proposals for new pass programs
Passes and products being evaluated include:
- Individual passes: Day Pass, Monthly Pass, ValuPass and Ticket Books
- Group passes: EcoPass, Business, Neighborhood EcoPass, FlexPass and CollegePass
as of February 15, 2018see larger image
Frequently Asked Questions
as of February 28, 2018
- RTD for years has received requests from constituents, stakeholders and others for passes different than or in addition to those currently offered. Requests from the public for a thorough review intensified during RTD’s last fare study, in 2014, and the RTD board of directors in 2015 authorized that it take place. In undertaking this study, the agency has been working alongside public representatives to answer complex and impactful questions about how best to serve its customers and the broader public.
- RTD reviews its fares periodically and determines whether to make adjustments to them. That public process – related to but separate from the pass program study – is to take place later this year, with any potential changes to fares taking place in 2019. The modeling assumptions from the working group’s recommended option assume 2019 cash fares of $3 for a local trip, $5.25 for a regional trip and $10.50 for a ride on the University of Colorado A Line to Denver International Airport. Any fare changes would first be reviewed by the agency’s senior leadership team, then by its board of directors.
- Participants in the study have been asked to consider eight guiding principles in their work: brand loyalty, convenience, cost-effectiveness, equitable access, increased ridership, an ability to meet strategic budget plan targets, revenue certainty and simplifying rider-operator interactions.
- After a full year of meetings, the 25-member working group convened in March 2017 to evaluate RTD’s pass programs is approaching the end of its effort. The group meets one final time, on February 27, 2018, to work through the details of a consensus recommendation to be offered to the agency’s senior leadership team, then to the board of directors for consideration.
- The pass program working group is creating a consensus recommendation that will be reviewed by two different groups within RTD: the agency’s senior leadership team and the board of directors. The working group itself is not making any changes.
- That decision lies with RTD's board of directors, which is expected to review the recommendation and other fare changes this spring and summer (2018). With board approval, the earliest the public could experience any changes resulting from the group's recommendation would be early 2019.
- The current recommendation retains EcoPass, Neighborhood EcoPass, CollegePass and the nonprofit program and adds a low-income pass and a youth pass. Group members are now reviewing the prices, discounts and surcharges associated with each pass program. They are scheduled to complete their work later this month, at the February 27, 2018, meeting.
- RTD and the working group have received a lot of requests and demands for an increase of the agency’s low-income program. The option being considered includes expanding the existing RTD nonprofit program, which has been in place for decades to assist low-income riders. The group is considering a 40 to 50 percent discount to be offered to qualifying riders whose incomes are at or below 185 percent of the federal poverty guidelines.
- The working group is considering discounting the fare for riders 6 through 19 years old to 70 percent (the current discount level for this age group is 50 percent; children 5 and younger would continue to ride for free when accompanied by a fare-paying rider). The group is also considering whether riders 12 years old and younger should ride free with a fare-paying rider.
- The working group has indicated an interest in retaining these types of passes and pricing them based on updated service level areas (for EcoPass) and the face value of the trips taken (for Neighborhood EcoPass and CollegePass). The group is considering phasing in price increases of more than 20 percent for EcoPass holders, neighborhoods and higher education institutions.
- RTD hired a modeling consultant, Four Nines Technologies, which previously worked with the agency on a fare study and is considered an industry leader for its work. The working group examined a wide range of methods for generating fare box revenue, and Four Nines analyzed all five options that had been considered for their impact on total revenue and ridership. The firm’s modeling results showed one unifying fact: Eliminating pass programs resulted in the loss of ridership and revenue. Once the working group saw that analysis, they agreed that the only viable option would be a package that retains EcoPass, Neighborhood EcoPass, CollegePass and the nonprofit program, and also adds a low-income pass and a youth pass.
The four options no longer being considered called for:
- Driving the base fare down as far as possible by eliminating all pass program discounts
- Utilization pricing, a low-as-possible base fare (with no low-income program) and a pay-as-you-go approach for employer and college programs
- Utilization pricing, a low-income program paid for with a higher base fare than the prior option and a pay-as-you-go approach for employer and college programs
- Individual utilization pricing, reducing the cost per trip as a rider riders more
- For decades RTD has offered reduced and free fares through its nonprofit fare program, and three years ago the RTD board of directors voted to increase the amount provided by $1 million, but there is still unmet demand. Low-income individuals may benefit from the low-income program being considered by the working group. RTD is dedicated to providing accessible transit. The agency fully supports efforts to bring on external funding to make this program a reality, and it appreciates the commitment of the citizen-led Affordable Fares Task Force to identify potential funding sources for such a program.