How to Ride the Bus
Step 1 - Find RTD Information
Plan your trip using our Trip Planner, find stops and stations using our system map, buy passes, find route, schedule and fare information and look for information about all fare products, programs and services here on rtd-denver.com.
Call Customer Care for complete bus and rail information. You can reach Customer Care at 303-299-6000. The TTY phone number for speech and hearing impaired is Dial: 711. Customer Care is open Monday–Friday from 6:00 a.m. – 8:00 p.m. and weekends/holidays from 9:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m.
Visit a transit station to pick up schedules, system maps, passes and ticket books or talk to a Customer Service Representative:
- Union Station Bus Concourse at 17th and Chestnut in Denver
- Civic Center Station at 16th and Broadway in Denver
- Boulder Junction at Depot Square Station at 33rd and Pearl Parkway in Boulder
- Downtown Boulder Station at 14th and Walnut in Boulder
- RTD Sales Counter at Denver International Airport at the Denver Airport Station, Level 1
View Map of Denver Airport Station on Level 1
You can also pick up schedules are the following locations where Customer Service Representatives are not available:
- RTD Administration Building
1660 Blake Street, Denver
- RTD District Shops
1900 31st Street Denver
- On buses and trains
Step 2 - Plan your Trip
Schedules may look complicated, but once you become familiar with them, they're really quite easy.
Here's what you'll find on a schedule:
- Route number
- Route name
- List of major destinations (printed schedules only)
- Route map with major streets and destinations
- Departure and arrival times for major stops along the route, based on direction of travel and day of the week
Tips for reading a schedule
- Determine the direction of travel and day of the week.
- Find the intersection closest to where you want to catch the bus. The bus usually makes stops between the major intersections listed on the schedule.
- Look down the column under that intersection to find departure times from that stop.
- Times are listed without using colons. So "426" means "4:26." Look for an "A" or a "P" to indicate AM or PM.
- Find the intersection closest to your destination.
- Read horizontally along the line that lists your departure time to determine when you will arrive at your destination. If no arrival time or (—) is shown, then that particular bus does not stop there. Look at the lines above and below for a bus that does make that stop.
- To plan your return trip, look at the reverse direction of travel on the opposite side of the printed schedule and follow these same steps.
Tips for using online schedules
Find schedules online using the 'Schedules' navigation menu or the 'Schedule Finder' tool in the toolbar. Online schedules can be collapsed to reduce a schedule with hundreds of timepoints down to as few as four timepoints chosen by you. You also have the options to download or print your customized schedule.
Step 3 - Find your Bus Stop
Some bus stops have shelters, many bus stops have benches, and all bus stops are marked by a red and white sign that lists all routes that stop at that location, as well as the stop number.
Step 4 - Verify your Route and Board the Bus
When you see a bus approaching, look at the destination sign above the front windshield to verify the route number. To let the bus driver know you want to board, please stand and wait near the curb at the designated bus stop.
Step 5 - Pay your Fare
The driver will not make change, so please pay with exact change.
- Have your money ready before you board.
- Insert your money in the fare box next to the driver as you board.
- During weekday afternoon rush hours between 4:00 p.m. and 6:00 p.m., boarding times are extremely short at the Union Station Bus Concourse, Civic Center and I-25 & Broadway stations. When riding some express and Regional routes leaving these stations, pay as you exit the bus.
10-Ride Ticket book
Tear out one ticket and insert it into the fare box, as you would cash, when you board.
Clearly show your pass to the driver as you board.
Tap your Smart Card on the Smart Card reader next to the driver. If you need to downgrade your fare from the route's default fare level, let the driver know before you tap.
If you are transferring from another RTD service, use a 3-Hour Pass as credit towards your bus fare.
Step 6 - Get off at your Stop
Stay alert so you know when your stop is approaching. If you're not sure when to get off the bus, sit close to the front and ask the driver to call out your stop.
Signal the driver you want to get off the bus about one block before you reach your stop. Depending on the type of bus you're riding, you can signal the driver by one of the following methods:
- Pulling the cord that runs above the windows.
- Pressing the yellow strip to the side of the windows.
- Pushing the button on the ceiling of the bus above your seat
The "Stop Requested" sign at the front of the bus will light up when you have activated the signal. When the bus stops, exit through the rear door if the bus has two doors. Wait until the bus pulls away so you can see traffic clearly before crossing the street. Do not cross in front of the bus.
What is the holiday schedule?
Buses and rail operate 365 days a year. However, buses follow the Sunday/holiday schedule on the following holidays: New Year's Day, Memorial Day, Independence Day, Labor Day, Thanksgiving Day and Christmas Day. Rail follows its weekend schedule on these same holidays.
How do I transfer from bus to bus?
Transfers can be made from bus to bus, and bus to rail. Before paying your fare let the driver know you need to transfer and the driver will give you a paper transfer slip valid for 3 hours (or the next greater 20 minute interval) from the start time of the trip. Just show the transfer slip when boarding the next bus.
What are X, Y, and Z bus stops?
In downtown Denver, Local and Limited buses only stop on every third block — signified by either X, Y or Z—on 15th and 17th streets. Your bus schedule will state whether your bus serves the X, Y or Z stops.
Why is my stop not listed on the schedule?
Schedules list only major stops on a route. There may be many other stops along the way. If your stop is between locations listed on the schedule, you'll need to estimate the arrival time of the bus, or call 303.299.6000 for specific times. Plan to arrive at least five minutes early.
Can I sit in the Wheelchair Securement Areas or Priority Seating?
As mandated by federal law, all RTD buses are equipped with Wheelchair Securement and Priority Seating areas up front. These areas are designated for passengers with disabilities using mobility aids such as wheelchairs, walkers or canes, and the elderly.
Passengers with disabilities using mobility aids have limited options of where they can sit while riding the bus, so to ensure that the Wheelchair Securement and Priority Seating areas are available for these passengers, RTD has revised its policy:
- The Wheelchair Securement and Priority Seating areas must be made available for passengers with disabilities using mobility aids, and the elderly. You are required to comply with the operator's request to relocate to other seating to accommodate an elderly or disabled passenger.
- Passengers with disabilities using mobility aids will be allowed to board the bus first.
Can I bring large items, such as strollers or grocery caddies, on the bus?
Customers traveling with large items, such as luggage, grocery caddies, and strollers must sit behind the Wheelchair Securement and Priority Seating areas and position their items, so they are out of the aisle. Please use the extra space area for yourself and your belongings.
- Strollers must be collapsed prior to boarding. Only folded strollers will be allowed on board.
- All items must be readily movable and stowed behind the Wheelchair Securement and Priority Seating areas.
What is the Exception Stop policy?
You can board AND get off at Exception Stops.
View RTD bus schedules on Next RideView bus schedules
After more than a year of engagement with the community, RTD is pleased to introduce a simpler, more affordable, and more equitable fare system.Find fare information here