Fare Study

Phase 2: evaluate fare structure
Dec. 2014 - Jan. 2015

Let’s face it. Paying to ride transit in the Denver area can be confusing at times. How do you figure out how to transfer from one bus to another or from a bus to a train? What do all of those light rail zones mean? With five new transit lines opening in 2016 – it’s time for RTD to simplify its fare structure to make riding across the district easier.

View the final fare policy

RTD is currently in phase 4 of the fare study. The RTD Board voted and approved a final fare policy effective in 2016.

What we heard from you

We’ve completed another step in simplifying our fare structure. We provided the public with an opportunity to give us feedback on two fare structure alternatives. Watch the video below presenting the two fare alternatives we recommend.

We received great feedback from you and we appreciate your comments.

What riders want

  • A simplified fare structure
  • Four suggested types are better than the current system
  • Public widespread support for a single rail fare (no zones)
  • Keep monthly and other pass programs
  • Expand RTD’s smart card program
  • A low-income pass and/or improvements to RTD’s existing nonprofit agency reduced fare program
  • A day pass no matter what payment option RTD adopts
  • Price the Local and Rail service at the same level, and potentially set the Regional and Airport service at the same price

Pay per boarding with a Day Pass

  • Is a simpler system and improved access to a day pass is very desirable
  • Would be difficult to enforce on rail lines

Pay for Time (3-Hour Pass)

  • Is simpler than the current system, with no restrictions on round-trips
  • A three-hour transfer might be too short for multiple or round trips, suggested four-hour block of time

Using the public’s feedback we will present a recommendation to the Board of Directors in spring 2015.

Stay tuned for future updates.


Let’s face it; paying to ride RTD’s transit system in the Denver area can be confusing.

If you're at this stop and want to go here, how do figure out how to transfer from one bus to another and how much will it cost? Going to a special event? What does that cost and how do you pay for it? How many light rail zones will you travel through and what do they mean? How do you pay for the train if you already paid for a bus ride?

With five new lines opening in 2016, it’s time for RTD to simplify its fare structure.

Service simplified

To make riding throughout the system easier, RTD is looking at organizing prices into four different service categories:

  • Local service – buses, which run only on local streets and through neighborhoods, offering stops every few blocks.
  • Regional service – larger buses with cushioned seats and footrests, which run on highways and typically carry passengers between cities.
  • Rail service – which offers the convenience of frequent stops, along with the consistent travel times of train service.
  • And airport service – which offers direct service via larger buses or rail to and from Denver International Airport.

Two ways to pay

In addition to simplifying types of service, RTD is exploring two possible ways to pay: Pay per Boarding or Pay for Time.

  • The first option is to pay each time you board a vehicle. For those who make several trips within a single day, buying a Day Pass could be a good, cost-saving choice.
  • The second option is to pay a slightly higher fare for a three-hour block of time. This would allow you to take any number of transit trips within that three hours and only pay the difference for switching between types of service, such as from local bus to regional bus.

Making it real

Let’s look at two different trip scenarios to compare these two payment options:

  • Scenario 1:
    You ride a Regional bus into Denver in the morning, returning home at night, with no other transit trips during the day. Under either payment option, you would pay two fares total that day.
    In this scenario, the Pay per Boarding option should be less expensive due to the slightly lower cost for each boarding.
  • Scenario 2:
    It’s noon. You need to make two stops over the next two hours – first a doctor’s appointment, then to the pharmacy, then return back to the office – requiring two stops and transfers between two local bus routes on this round trip.
    In this scenario, the Pay for Time option would be less expensive, because you pay only one fare – for a three-hour time block.

We want to hear from you

As these different trip scenarios illustrate, each payment option has its advantages, depending on the type of trip. RTD’s goal is to implement one option that is easy for riders to understand, pay for, and use throughout our growing system.

Now, we’d like you to share your thoughts about these options with us. Take a minute to fill out our feedback form now.


La verdad es – entender cómo pagar por el pasaje para viajar por autobús o por tren ligero en Denver puede ser complicado.

Si estas en esta parada de autobús y deseas viajar a este lugar – ¿Cómo descifras como hacer el cambio entre un autobús y el otro? Además – ¿Cuánto cuesta el pasaje? ¿Vas a viajar a un evento especial? ¿Cuánto cuesta y cómo vas a pagar por el pasaje? ¿Cuántas zonas de tren ligero vas a cruzar y que significan cada una de ellas? ¿Cómo pagas para viajar en tren ligero si ya has pagado por un viaje en autobús?

Con cinco líneas nuevas de transporte por abrir en el 2016 – es hora de simplificar la estructura de tarifas de RTD.

Servicio simplificado

Para hacer los viajes en transporte más fácil, RTD está organizando las tarifas dentro de cuatro categorías de servicio:

  • Servicio local con autobuses que funcionan en calles locales a través de vecindarios y que ofrecen paradasfrecuentes.
  • Servicio regional con autobuses más grandes que funcionan en las carreteras o autopistas y llevan a los pasajerosdeciudad a ciudad.
  • Servicio de tren que ofrece la conveniencia de paradas frecuentes y horarios consistentes.
  • Y servicio al aeropuerto que ofrece rutas directas hacia y desde el Aeropuerto Internacional de Denver con autobúsgrandes y cómodo o con el nuevo servicio de tren.

Dos maneras de pagar

Además de simplificar los tipos de servicio, RTD también está explorando dos maneras para pagar el pasaje – pagar por cada abordaje o pagar por tiempo.

  • Con la primera opción, un pasajero tendría que pagar cada vez que aborda un vehículo. Para aquellas personas que hacen varios viajes en un solo día, comprar un pase diario podría ser una buena opción para ahorrar dinero.
  • Con la segunda opción, un pasajero tendría que pagar una tarifa un poco más alta por tres horas. Esto le permitirá al pasajero tomar varios viajes dentro este horario y pagar tan solo la diferencia entre los tipos de servicio – por ejemplo, hacer una transferencia entre un autobús local y un autobús regional.

Unos ejemplos

Vamos a ver a dos ejemplos que comparan las opciones para pagar el pasaje:

  • Ejemplo 1:
    Cada día, tienes que tomar un autobús regional para ir al centro de Denver por la mañana, y otro para regresar a casa por la noche sin otros viajes durante el día. Con cada opción, pagas dos veces en total – una vez por cada viaje.
    Con este ejemplo, pagar por cada abordaje debería ser preferible debido al costo menor por cada pasaje.
  • Ejemplo 2:
    Son las doce p.m. Necesitas hacer dos viajes durante las próximas dos horas – la primera a una cita de médico y la otra a la farmacia antes de regresar a la oficina o la casa. Ambas visitas requieren dos paradas y un cambio entre dos rutas locales de autobús.
    Con este ejemplo, la opción que te permite pagar por un bloque de tiempo sería menos costoso porque pagas por un solo pasaje – un bloque de tiempo de tres horas.

Queremos saber lo que piensas

Como estos ejemplos demuestran, cada opción de pagar tiene ventajas, dependiendo del tipo de viaje. El objetivo de RTD es el de implementar una opción que es fácil de entender, de pagar, y de utilizar a través de todo el sistema de transporte, el cual sigue creciendo.

¡Ahora sí! Queremos saber lo que piensas. Comparte con nosotros tu opinión acerca de estas opciones. Toma un minuto para llenar la siguiente planilla.

Two fare structure alternatives presented in the video:

  • Decision #1: Changing the number of fare categories
    We are considering reducing the current fare structure from 10 different fare categories to only 4 fare categories

    • Recommended fare categories:
      • Local – Bus routes on city street with frequent stops.
      • Regional – Bus routes carrying riders between cities often on highways.
      • Rail – A single flat fare for all rail service (no zones).
      • Airport – Bus and rail service to and from DIA.
    • The current fare structure includes 10 fare categories: Local/Limited, Express and Regional bus, four light rail zones – A, B, C and D, and three SkyRide levels – Level I, II, III.
  • Decision #2: Changing what your fare pays for
    We are considering two new options for what your fare pays for:

    • Option #1 - Pay per boarding
      Pay fare each time you board a vehicle or purchase a day pass

    • Option #2 - Pay for time
      Pay for a three-hour block of time of unlimited rides

    • In the current fare structure, you pay once when you start a one-way trip and tranfer to other vehicles as needed to complete your one-way trip.

Next steps

What is the fare study? At RTD, we're committed to providing our customers the best transit experience. And as we expand our bus and rail services, our fare structure has become complex. We have evaluated and identified challenges with our fare structure and determined the best structure to meet our customers’ needs.

PHASE 1
IDENTIFY CHALLENGES
Aug. - Sept. 2014

Identified issues our riders are facing with our current fare structure through public meetings and online feedback.

PHASE 2
DEVELOP FARE STRUCTURE ALTERNATIVES
Dec. 2014 - Jan. 2015

Developed simplified fare structure alternatives; gather public feedback through public meetings and online feedback.

PHASE 3
RECOMMEND NEW FARE STRUCTURE AND PRICING
Spring 2015

Develop fare pricing options; gather public input, and RTD Board will approve new fare structure and new pricing.

PHASE 4
RECOMMEND SIMPLIFIED PASS PROGRAMS
Fall 2015

Develop simplified pass program recommendations (Non-Profit Agency Reduced Fare Program, EcoPass, CollegePass, etc.), gather public input, and RTD Board will approve new pass programs.

PHASE 5
IMPLEMENT
Early 2016

Communicate new fare structure, pricing and pass programs to the public and implement the new fare policies.

Legend: Completed Current Phase Upcoming Phase

If you are not familiar with our fares, view our current fare policies.