RTD Interim Chief says their fares are down but are looking for new ways to serve their customers

Posted at 5:51 PM, Mar 30, 2020
and last updated 2020-03-30 21:50:14-04

DENVER  — DENVER -- Alfredo Enriquez has been using RTD's public transportation system to get to-and-fro for years, but now, he says, things look a lot different.

"The train looks empty, and I see the buses, you don’t see people around," he said.

Enriquez is homeless and for him, getting on trains and buses is a way to survive.

Besides him, fewer people are using RTD and the Interim Chief, Paul Ballard, is taking notice.

"A month ago we were providing 350,000 trips everyday on our buses and trains and paratransit vehicles and right now we’re down around 100,000 passengers per day," Ballard told Denver7.

Starting April 19, RTD will be cutting about 40% of its routes, meaning buses will run on Saturday schedules and trains on Sunday schedules due to a 70% drop in ridership due to the novel coronavirus in recent weeks. The cuts were approved by RTD's elected board on March 24.

For the first time, Ballard said RTD will also be providing people who use Access-a-Ride with grocery delivery.

"If they’re not able to get out or if they feel it is unsafe to get out, we’ll pick up the food and deliver it to their homes, they can call the same day and if we have capacity, we’ll deliver the food on the same day," Ballard said.

As of now, RTD hasn’t seen any layoffs and the plan is to keep it that way.

Ballard said through the coronavirus, they’ve also maintained a steady stream of job applicants, but the issue is retention.

"We don’t know where this is going to go, we don’t know how long this is going to last. Our plan is to stick with our employees as long as we absolutely can."

The reduced service will remain in effect through Sept. 20, which is the next planned service change.