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Tag: access-a-ride

Transit Updates

 

by Jaime Lewis - CCDC Transit Advocate and Advisor

July 9, 2020

  • Invest in America Act

  • RTD Reimagine

  • Rural Transportation

  • COVID- 19

  • Summary


1. Invest in America Act

State and County governments have struggled for two decades to fund repairs for roads and bridges.  Rising costs and dwindling gas tax revenues have left most of the roads and bridges in our state at near or below standards.

Congress is currently debating the Invest Act.  The Invest Act is a sub-portion of the larger act called the “Moving Forward Act” that will address housing, climate change, water, and land use.  Four highlights of the Invest Act are,

  • States would get more money to end traffic violence.  Thirty percent increase in road safety funding and sixty percent increase for bike lanes and sidewalks.  These percentages seem like a large increase but it must be noted that funding for these categories was small, to begin with.  It will be imperative to monitor and influence the way these funds will be spent.  Organizations like Mile High Connects, Denver Streets Partnership, Bicycle Colorado, Colorado Cross-Disability Coalition, and citizens like you will be essential to ensure monies are spent properly.
  • Departments of Transportation would have to fix existing roads before building new ones.  This issue may not appear to be a primary issue for someone who does not own a vehicle.  However, inter-connectivity across older roads, i.e. sidewalks, bicycle paths will help eliminate communities from being separated.
  • Congestion pricing is a tool that governments will be looking at closely.  Charging drivers during peak traffic periods may become a benefit to transit riders.  Some of the restrictions on using congestion pricing are that the jurisdiction cannot charge transit vehicles.  Roads designated for congestion pricing would also have to have a low-income alternative for the same route, i.e. bus, train.
  • The act will provide 8.3 billion dollars to lower the carbon footprint.  One of the efforts is to expand the use of E-Vehicles by building more infrastructure to support it.  Debates have already started whether this is a good investment.  Most planners who have been trying to lower the use of single-occupancy vehicles are against filling up our roads with E-vehicles.  In the advent that the population of E-vehicles increases our community must ensure that the product is accessible.

2. REIMAGINE

Two years ago, Dave Genova, former CEO of RTD had a vision.  He wanted to reimagine RTD.  In other words, what would people expect of RTD in 2050?

  • Meetings started shortly after his announcement.  There were an enthusiasm and large participation for the first two meetings.  Unfortunately, the pandemic, sliding economy, and civil unrest redirected the group to focus on service cuts to insure that RTD could survive financially.  The group is assisting RTD in dealing with financial realities, safety concerns, and unrealistic expectations that were placed on the organization two decades ago (trains, trains, trains).
  • No doubt, there will be service reductions for the district.  There will be an emphasis on maintaining and improving the remainder of the district after cuts to service.
  • One of the structures we are trying to maintain is the Access-a-Ride.  Under current policy RTD only provides service ¾ mile from fixed routes.  If routes are to be eliminated or shortened we must insist that AAR remain active in those areas.

3. RURAL TRANSPORTATION

The average length of a car trip is 2-4 miles.  Smaller communities provide little to no transportation for our elderly, disabled, and the general public.  A trip less than 4 miles could mean access to groceries, healthcare, recreation, and social interaction.

  • Rural communities must recognize the importance of keeping their citizens mobile.  Investing in local transportation helps maintain a healthy community and economy.  When local dollars are used to support transportation, those dollars stay in the community.
  • If you identify a small start-up carrier or a struggling transit system in your area start campaigning for local dollars to be invested into them.

4. COVID-19

  • Wear the damn mask!

That’s all I got to say about that.

5. Summary:

CCDC provides this information so you are informed of transit information.  We hope some of you will take this knowledge and use it to share with your local representatives.

  • Attend your local meetings if possible.
    • This includes City Council Meetings or County Commissioner meetings.
    • These government bodies are required to have virtual meetings so that you can participate.
  • Start a conversation.
    • You will be surprised how many elected officials are waiting for good input from you.

CCDC wants to insure that you have your chance to provide input on RTD Service Changes

Public meetings have been scheduled between February 19 and March 5 for you to learn more about and weigh in on proposed RTD service changes.

Information, Dates, and Locations are available at https://www.rtd-denver.com/service-changes/may-2020.

You can also provide your input by emailing service.changes@rtd-denver.com or faxing comments to 303-299-2227 no later than March 5, 2020. Continue reading “CCDC wants to insure that you have your chance to provide input on RTD Service Changes”

RTD Plan Would Cut 6 Bus Routes And Reduce Service On Many Others

Picture of an RTD 16L: Civic Center Bus on a stop
RTD is considering eliminating the 16L, which travels between Golden and Denver on West Colfax, entirely as part of larger plan to cut service and give its overworked drivers a break.

 

The Regional Transportation District on Thursday proposed cutting six bus routes, reducing service on 19 bus routes, suspending special buses for sporting and community events, and curtailing service on three of its light rail lines.

The agency hopes those reductions are enough to give their operators a needed break. Because of a driver shortage, they’ve been required to work overtime for the last four years to keep service levels up. That in turn has led to more turnover, and, in October, senior staff told the RTD board they wanted to make “significant” cuts to service in a last-ditch bid to fix the problem.

“Clearly, we would rather not be doing any of this,” spokeswoman Pauletta Tonilas said at a press briefing Thursday. “But this is our responsibility; we’re owning this. Some of these are going to be painful.”

The agency is currently short about 80 bus drivers and 60 light rail operators; it needs 1,084 and 216 of each, respectively. RTD says the cuts to regularly scheduled service alone would reduce the need for 44 bus drivers and six light rail operators on a given weekday. The suspension of special service buses — which include BuffRideBroncosRide and RunRide on Memorial Day Weekend — would mean anywhere from six to 114 fewer drivers would need to report to work.

The 16L on West Colfax, the 55 in Arvada, the 99L in Lakewood and Littleton, the 157 to the Community College of Aurora and Buckley Airforce Base, the 236 in Boulder and the 403 in Highlands Ranch, would be cut completely. This map shows which regular bus and light rail routes would be affected by the cuts.

Peak frequency on the 16th Street MallRide would drop to three minutes and the D Line from downtown Denver to Littleton would no longer operate on weekends. Only part of the R Line would see reductions because the federal government, which funded part of the line, turned down RTD’s request to reduce service in Lone Tree.

Service on the 16 would be expanded, as would weekend service on the D Line’s cousin, the C Line. Many 16L riders will likely migrate to the nearby W light rail line.

But on a recent morning, some said they’ll have to switch to the 16 local. Solomon Joseph, who said he takes his kids to school Lakewood on the 16L every day, said the local bus will add at least another 15 minutes each way — and more if he misses his connection.

“RTD, you’re going to make a big mistake if you cut this route,” he said. “Because there are people more than just myself that ride it on a regular, daily basis and depend on it.”

Carla Respects Nothing said she takes the 16L from her home on the west side to her job in downtown Denver every day.

“It takes me not even 10 minutes to get to work. I’m lucky,” she said. “I just hope they don’t cut it because we really need these limited routes to get where we are going faster.”

Picture of a 16L rider, Carla.
Carla Respects Nothing poses for a portrait on the 16L bus on West Colfax in Denver. She says she takes the bus to work every day and hopes RTD doesn’t cut it, as the agency now says it might.

And it also appears that cuts could affect future users of RTD’s paratransit service, Access-A-Ride. Anyone who lives within a 3/4-mile radius and has a qualifying disability is entitled to use the service. Advocates had worried the cuts would affect their communities, but in November, outgoing General Manager Dave Genova told the board that “We don’t need to touch Access-a-Ride.”

But now, RTD says no new customers will be added to the program if routes are eliminated in their area.

“I have issue with that,” said Jaime Lewis, a transit adviser with the Colorado Cross Disability Coalition who attended the press conference. “I can see the scenario where if somebody obtains a disability, that their neighbor is going to have access to Access-A-Ride and they won’t. That proposes an issue with our community.”

Additionally, what were originally advertised at “temporary” cuts now contain a caveat that poorly performing service will likely not be reinstated. RTD staff say those services likely would’ve been cut through the agency’s routine service changes.

At a special board meeting Thursday evening, several directors said they’d like to know which specific lines are unlikely to come back. Staff said they couldn’t say at the moment.

Overall, RTD says 1,049 out of 10,102 daily bus trips would be affected, along with 420 out of 1,036 light rail trips. Two board members estimated that added up to about 5 percent of RTD’s services, though staff did not corroborate that assessment.

“I think this is a good start. I think we don’t want to go too far,” said RTD COO Michael Ford. “We want to stabilize the system, and we don’t want to cut it so much where we’re impacting the system in a negative way.”

Even if the board approves the cuts, RTD says they will not amount to enough to completely eliminate the need for forced overtime. As the process moves forward, public meetings will be held in January and February in each of the 15 districts that make up RTD. The final plan would likely be in front of the board in March and would go into effect in May.

If the plan is a success and RTD is able to add and retain more drivers, well-performing routes that were dropped would then be considered for reinstatement.

RTD Directors Close to Making Decision on Fares

RTD Board of Directors will be deciding on fare increases in the next couple of weeks.

August  21st- RTD Board will have its regularly scheduled board meeting on Tuesday the 21st of September from 5:30-7:30 at 1660 Blake.  This meeting provides time for public input.  People wanting to speak must sign in when they arrive and indicate that they want speak.  Each speaker is given 3 minutes to present.  All comments should be directed at chair person.

September 11- RTD finance committee may vote to present fare increase to full board (September 18th).  No public input is allowed at this meeting

September 18th- RTD Board has the option to vote on fare increases or table the issue to gather more information or input.  Public input is accepted at this meeting.

If the vote is tabled there could be another chance on October 23rd for Directors to do so.

Jaime Lewis

CCDC Transit Advisor

 

 


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