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Ridership on RTD light rail decreases significantly

Recent report shows ridership down 13.7 percent year over year.

DENVER — As the Regional Transportation District (RTD) celebrates 50 years in business, staff had rather grim news for the transit agency's elected board this week: ridership on light rail is down.

Light rail, which has long been RTD's most popular service, saw a 13.7% decline between January and the end of May of this year compared to a year ago, according to a report prepared for the board's July 11 meeting.

In that report, staff members admit they are unable to pinpoint precisely why the system has seen such a decline in ridership. 

In January, fares for RTD's system increased to some of the highest fares in the country. A 2019 survey of riders quoted in the report shows a declining number of riders feel they're getting value from their fare.

RELATED: RTD fare increases now in effect

RTD staff also pointed to another survey result showing passengers are becoming more dissatisfied with on time performance of the trains. 

Staff found that student enrollment on the Auraria campus, where many students ride RTD to get to class, has not declined. The agency also reported the the average length of a ride on light rail had not changed.

Overall, ridership on all of RTD's systems was down 1.8% in the same time year to year. The report says ridership on commuter rail, fixed bus routes and the Flatiron Flyer were all up.

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