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RTD looking at affordable pass options for riders

RTD's looking to lower the cost of transportation for people on a tight income, but that means others may pay more.

A group of transit advocates and stakeholders is expected to present a recommendation to RTD senior leadership and RTD’s elected board next week that would reform the transit agency’s pass structure, allowing more opportunities for lower income riders.

The group has been exploring options for the past year and narrowed down several things in recent months.

The work group is expected to present a plan to leadership which would create a pass for lower income riders and a pass for youth.

The pass for lower income riders would be available to those who make at or below 185 percent of the federal poverty line for income. In this case, that equals $45,510 for a family of four. The recommended pass would discount rides anywhere from 40 to 50 percent.

The working group is also considering a pass for kids. This pass would offer people ages 6-19 a 70 percent discount on fares.

Children five and younger already ride for free on RTD if they’re accompanied by a fare paying adult. The working group is raising that age to 12 and younger.

All of these options might come at a cost. The model this group is using to configure these new pass structures includes increases in cash fares.

Under the model used by the group, a one-way local ticket is increased to $3 from $2.60, a one-way regional ticket is increased to $5.25 from $4.50 and an airport fare is increased to $10.50. The working group is not suggesting the new fare structure, and RTD’s board would have the final say.

The modeling helps determine whether a change in fare structure would still hit revenue estimates for the agency. If the pass changes are adopted, it would likely mean the agency would have to consider a fare increase.

The agency already reexamines fares every three years. It is due for another look this year.

But the working group does not have the authority to suggest a fare increase. That is the discretion of the RTD board.

The board also has discretion over any changes to passes, as well.

The working group is expected to meet for the final time Tuesday, at One Civic Center Plaza from 1-4 p.m. The meeting is open to the public.