RTD’s newest service changes take effect on Jan. 10

RTD will carry out its regularly scheduled service changes on Jan. 10. The system update involves changes to frequency and routes, reflecting the ongoing reality of COVID-19 that has only 40% of pre-pandemic ridership boarding trains and buses. Some lesser-used commuting routes will be suspended. Much of the changes reflect reallocation of resources to address routes that continue to need frequent service and to allow for social distancing, which is necessary to follow pandemic safety protocols.

“This is not a normal service change, and it’s not one we would consider a permanent one,” said Jessie Carter, RTD’s manager of service planning and scheduling. “Our focus is to redistribute service from routes that are underperforming to ones that have capacity challenges.”

RTD officials explained that this round of system changes, which happen three times each year, are predicated on a couple of factors:

  • Less demand on many commuting routes due to the pandemic keeping many riders, previously bound for offices and schools, at home indefinitely.
  • The need to add buses and frequency on some popular routes, such as Colfax, Federal and Broadway, in order to accommodate pandemic social distancing.

“Our new normal has taken a toll on our operations, our employees and our finances,” General Manager and CEO Debra A. Johnson told local and national officials recently.  

RTD has been operating under a drastically changed schedule since late spring, when it began 40% cuts to the January 2020 service schedule in response to the first wave of the pandemic. The agency’s Board of Directors has since extended those across-the-board cuts into 2021, saying it may revisit them later in the year if ridership increases or with new federal aid coming.

As required in the federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, RTD has through the end of this calendar year to use the approximately $232 million in federal emergency assistance it received to fill the 2020 budget hole, keeping people employed and buses and trains running. RTD and a national coalition of transit agencies and supporters have been imploring Congress for a second round of aid to either restore services in 2021 or avoid further cuts. President Donald J. Trump signed off on a new pandemic relief bill Sunday night.

“This relief funding comes at a critical time as we have expended the CARES Act funding, which was used to continue providing essential transit service to essential workers,” Johnson said. “While it is unknown at this juncture as to how much of the $14 billion in transit aid RTD will receive and the specific guidance for fund utilization, I am optimistic it will help us in retaining some of our frontline employees. We cannot discern specific numbers of employees at this time; however, this funding allows us to provide supplemental service on some of our busier bus routes as we continue to assess our ridership and opportunities to better optimize our service levels.”

The Jan. 10 changes affect the following routes:     

Local/Limited Bus Routes

0, 15, 15L, 16, 20, 28, 31, 32, 34, 44, 48, 51, 65, 83, 88, 88L, 92, 120, 205,

225/225D/225E, 228, MallRide

Regional Bus Routes

AT, CS/CV, ES/EV, GS, LD

Rail

C, D, E, F, H, N, R, W

RTD will continue to evaluate service throughout the year – and determine the viability of reinstituting suspended routes – based on changes in ridership that could occur with fluctuation in COVID-19 cases. For a full description of the Jan. 10 service changes, visit this webpage on the RTD website.

light rail train leaving a station at night