50 Years of moving people

Begin the journey

RTD Timeline

  1. 1969

    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.

  2. 1972

    RTD’s Transportation Plan Completed

    RTD’s transportation plan is completed. The plan includes a 98-mile Personal Rapid Transit Network and bus system estimated to cost $1.56 billion over the next 10 years.

  3. 1973

    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.

  4. 1974

    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.

  5. 1975

    RTD Services Branded “The Ride”

    RTD unveils a new brand for its transit services on March 21: The Ride.

  6. 1977

    Platte Division Opens

    The Platte Division opens on June 2. This $9.6 million facility sits on 5.88 acres and maintains 252 buses.

  7. 1978

    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 buses 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.

  8. 1979

    Tokens for Buses

    RTD bus tokens are introduced.

  9. 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.

  10. 1980

    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.

  11. 1981

    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.

  12. 1982

    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.

    RTD Furthers its Commitment to Accessibility

    Bus fleets are 100% wheelchair accessible for weekends and off-peak, 50% peak times.

  13. 1983

    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.

  14. 1984

    Civic Center Station Opens

    After three years of construction, Civic Center Station, referred to as the “crowning jewel” of the 16th Street Mall project opens. It provides a bus concourse and retail space.

  15. 1987

    HB 1249 Passes the Colorado General Assembly

    The Colorado General Assembly passes HB 1249 which paves the way for the FasTracks initiative – to create fixed guideway rapid transit throughout seven corridors in the metro area.

  16. 1991

    Approval of First Rail Line

    The Denver Regional Council of Governments approves a project to build the first light rail line along the Central Corridor – what will be known as the D Line – connecting 30th and Downing to I-25 and Broadway.

  17. 1994

    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.

    First Light Rail Line Opens

    RTD’s first light rail line opens in October. The Central Corridor, or D Line, connects 30th and Downing to I-25 and Broadway.

  18. 1999

    Hybrid MallRide Vehicles Introduced

    Ultra low-emission hybrid Free MallRide shuttles start service along the 16th Street Mall.

  19. 2000

    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.

    Southwest Corridor Line Opens

    In July, light rail service is extended to south metro areas – to Mineral Ave on the Southwest Corridor on the D Line.

  20. 2001

    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 buses, MallRide, and light rail.

  21. 2002

    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.

  22. 2004

    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.

  23. 2006

    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.

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  24. 2012

    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.

  25. 2013

    W Line Opens

    The West Rail Line, or W Line, to Golden opens. It connects the Jefferson County Government Center to downtown Denver.

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  26. 2014

    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.

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  27. 2016

    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.

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    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.

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    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.

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    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.

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  28. 2017

    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.

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    NextRide and Trip Planner Provide Real-Time Information for Riders

    RTD launches digital transit tools NextRide and Trip Planner that allow riders to see vehicle locations in real time and have estimates of vehicle departure times.

  29. 2018

    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.

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    Transportation Transformation

    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.

  30. 2019

    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.

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    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.

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    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.

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    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.

    Expanded Collaboration with Lyft

    RTD and initially collaborate in Fall 2018 for the "Ditch Your Car" initiative, which promotes utilization of alternative forms of transportation to reduce the number of single-occupancy vehicles on the road. The collaboration is expanded on March 11 when Lyft and RTD announce the release fo the "Nearby Transit" feature in Lyft's mobile application that lets a rider know what forms of public transportation are near where they are located.

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    Groundbreaking for Colfax Improvement Project

    The 15 and 15L Routes serve East Colfax in Denver and Aurora. On March 28, a launch event formally kicks off an improvement project designed to make the corridor safer and transit more efficient. Bus stop improvements include enhanced bus shelters with lighting, security cameras, trashcans, and curb extensions. Future plans include transit signal priority and dedicated queue lanes designed to keep buses moving even when other traffic even in heavy traffic.

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    G Line Opens in April

    The G Line opens on April 26 and connects Wheat Ridge and Arvada to downtown Denver. Riders can now travel from the Wheat Ridge & Ward Station to Union Station in 27 minutes. Service is every 15-30 minutes and is projected to have ridership of 9,000 people each day.

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    Southeast Rail Extension Opens

    Service is 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.

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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.