RTD Board tonight approves service changes starting April 19

The Regional Transportation District (RTD)’s Board of Directors tonight approved changes that will reduce the agency’s bus, light rail and special services starting April 19.

The Board approved an extensive package of May service changes, which would have originally taken effect May 17, and a service reduction plan to address COVID-19 by moving to the weekend service outlined in the May service changes. During a special Board meeting to discuss the COVID-19 service plan the motion passed unanimously.  

The initial changes shift most bus service to a Saturday schedule and light rail service to a Sunday schedule as outlined in the May service change plan. This is in response to a 70% decrease in ridership resulting from the spread of COVID-19. The weekend levels of service that were approved reduce service by about 40% from current levels.

“The current decrease in RTD ridership is unrivaled in the agency’s history, and by taking this action, we exercise responsibility and care for our employees and our customers,” said RTD Interim General Manager and CEO Paul J. Ballard. “This also allows us to continue to serve those who rely on us, including health care and food service workers and others who are critical to fighting this crisis, while also giving us flexibility to restore service as ridership returns.” 

Ballard says the reduced service levels will remain in effect through Sept. 20, which is the next planned service change. RTD will continue to evaluate ridership and service needs and reinstate service as demand warrants and ridership returns. Service will be restored as necessary from Saturday and Sunday service to the service levels outlined in the May service change. 

Implementing the service reduction plan starting April 19 gives RTD time to work through many processes with the union and integrate the change into its information systems.

RTD intends to retain its operations staff during the service reduction. Those who aren’t assigned regular routes will be on standby to cover open trips or shifts for operators who call in sick, as well as participate in refresher training. Taking this approach will keep the agency’s workforce intact for when the pandemic subsides and service levels can be restored.

RTD’s commuter rail lines -- University of Colorado A Line, B Line and G Line -- will continue to run at current service levels, because they are operated by Denver Transit Partners, a private concessionaire.