Two key groups will help guide Reimagine RTD’s direction

Two key groups will help guide Reimagine RTD’s direction

We will ask the transit connoisseurs. 

We will ask the transit skeptics.

We will ask the staff pros.

We will ask the full-time amateur critics.

We will ask everyone. And “everyone” has two years of nonstop opportunities to answer this crucial question, posed through the Reimagine RTD project: How should transit in the metro Denver region be transformed in the coming decades?

“There are some tough decisions we will have to make, and we’re excited to engage as many people as possible to give us input on how to make those decisions,” said Bill Sirois, RTD’s senior manager of transit oriented communities.

The Reimagine RTD process will use public and expert input to make recommendations to the RTD Board of Directors about future transit direction, from financing the remaining four FasTracks projects, to altering routes and schedules for maximum convenience and fare revenue, to determining how technology should be incorporated into transit in the future.
 
Two key groups working on Reimagine RTD have already begun meeting: a technical working group of multi-agency transit experts, and an advisory committee of policy and political representatives focused on big-picture transit issues and funding questions. Each group will convene every other month and work closely with RTD staff.

To create two wide-ranging panels, RTD contacted groups and individuals with interest in the transit agency’s work to encourage applications and request ideas for individuals suited for appointments. In so doing, RTD received over 70 recommendations. The agency made its final selection based upon criteria that include broad geographic representation; demographic diversity; diversity of background, interest and expertise; and understanding and interest in local and national transportation challenges and issues. 
 
The advisory committee will identify and evaluate scenarios that reflect realistic future financial and operational options for consideration by the RTD Board. The group includes elected officials and senior executives with a strong background in transportation planning, policy and funding. It will provide input into Reimagine RTD planning efforts but not develop formal recommendations for the RTD Board of Directors. 

The technical working group will develop data needs and evaluate technical scenarios that reflect future financial and operational options, for consideration by the RTD Board. The committee includes technical experts with extensive experience in transportation planning, operation, funding or other experience in support of complex transportation challenges, initiatives or projects. The committee will provide technical input into Reimagine RTD planning efforts.

Later in the process, RTD will include additional partners representing diverse discipline areas to ensure that the team takes a strategic look at the transit agency’s future. 

In addition to regular meetings of those two advisory groups, RTD’s community engagement staff is setting up a host of public forums, study groups and survey methods to broaden the discussion on the future of transit in a region expected to grow more than 30 percent in the next 30 years. Some of these engagements will include:

  • Up to 15 public meetings in three rounds, on evenings and weekends and throughout RTD’s approximately 2,400-square-mile service district. Keep an eye on the RTD website, the monthly Read-n-Ride newsletter and other bulletin boards for more information as it becomes available.
  • A regional public opinion survey that includes riders and non-riders, asking for reasons why people use public transit and why they don’t. This outreach tactic will be carried out in addition to RTD’s ongoing Customer Satisfaction Survey, which will include new questions about Reimagine RTD.
  • Employee surveys and forums, held at different divisions. RTD will seek employee comments and recommendations on issues such as operational improvements and recruitment for staff shortages. 
  • Targeted listening sessions focused on getting more feedback from individuals who are harder to reach, such as low-income families with multiple jobs, late-shift workers, and residents with disabilities and mobility challenges.  

“We don’t want to do this in a vacuum, as an agency,” Sirois said. “We rely on our stakeholders and our community. They rely on us for service, and we rely on them for feedback and direction. It’s really important that we provide them with an avenue to engage in this process.” 

Sirois said he wants all interested riders, residents and policymakers to approach Reimagine RTD realizing that useful recommendations will result from tough choices. While demand for transit in metro Denver is high, resources are finite so RTD may not be able to implement everything and please everyone.

In the discussion of ideas, he said, “everyone will be asked to make decisions on tradeoffs for the good of the entire region”