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RTD to begin 18-month fare study due to 'burdensome' cost for many customers

The Denver metro area agency acknowledged that its fare structure is one of the most expensive in the transit industry.

DENVER — The Regional Transportation District (RTD) announced it is beginning a systemwide study of its fares after acknowledging that its fare structure is one of the most expensive in the transit industry.

RTD said its fare study and fare equity analysis will take a minimum of 18 months. The study will gather feedback from customers, local leaders and agency employees, according to RTD.

“I realize that the current fare structure is burdensome for many RTD customers,” said Debra A. Johnson, RTD CEO and general manager. “It compromises those who use transit the most, a viewpoint we have heard from the public for some time now and that I have heard in earnest since assuming my role in November.”

The work will also include "extensive multicultural outreach, involving culturally specific community organizations that serve the BIPOC (Black, indigenous and people of color) communities, youth, seniors, people with disabilities, the unhoused and veterans, as well as those who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer or questioning," said RTD.

> Above video: As Polis pushes, RTD leaders want dialogue on long-delayed Longmont train.

As RTD works to recover from the impacts of the pandemic, the agency said it has had requests to make RTD services more affordable.

“RTD exists to provide service to a vast breadth of customers, and the most important question to examine is whether the agency is best meeting customers’ needs,” Johnson said. “I want to understand our customers’ pain points, and an examination of our fares through a lens of equity and accessibility intends to provide that answer.

“Beginning this process now is crucial as RTD charts a road to recovery, and the community will serve as a vital component in helping us understand where our focus must be.” 

RTD said its current fare structure was implemented in 2016, with fare levels in three categories: Local, Regional and Airport. The RTD Board of Directors approved revisions to the agency’s fare structure and pass programs in September 2018 that were implemented in 2019.

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