RTD slashes bus, light rail service as coronavirus spurs “unrivaled” ridership drop

Service reduction will start on April 19
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Posted at 11:03 PM, Mar 24, 2020
and last updated 2020-03-25 01:03:32-04

DENVER — RTD’s elected board unanimously approved unprecedented cuts to rail and bus service Tuesday night in response to the coronavirus pandemic that has decimated ridership in just the last two weeks. The COVID-19 service plan will take effect April 19.

The board also approved a separate — and far less severe — series of service cuts to deal with ongoing operator shortages that will stand as the normal service level once the pandemic has passed. That plan was approved 14-1.

“This has been really quite surreal,” said board Chair Angie Rivera-Malpiede, remarking on how quickly RTD has been forced to adjust its schedule in the face of the fast-spreading virus.

Since mid-March, ridership in the Regional Transportation District has plummeted by about 70%. That has delivered a new budget hit for the agency — one that bond ratings agencies are starting to notice — even as services remain vital for plenty of lower-income workers and residents, along with those in fields that are helping to deal with the outbreak.

“The last weekday with near normal ridership levels on our buses and trains was Thursday, March 12th,” interim general manager Paul Ballard wrote in a board memo. “The ensuing ten-day period has seen a steady and dramatic decrease in ridership that is unrivaled in public transportation history.”

The initial changes shift most bus service to a Saturday schedule and light rail service to a Sunday schedule, RTD officials said in a news release following the vote.

The following bus routes will be affected by the service cuts: 0L, 1, 15L, 16, 16L, 27, 32, 46, 55, 65, 66, 67, 99, 99L, 125, 130, 139, 153, 157, 206, 236, 403, 483, FREE MALLRIDE, JUMP; Y, 116X; BroncosRide, BuffRide, Rockies Service, RunRide.

RTD also said the C, D, H, and R light rail lines will be affected, and the same goes for Access-A-Ride.

RTD Interim General Manager and CEO Paul J. Ballard said reduced service will remain in effect through Sept. 20, which is the next planned service change.

Read the rest of this story from our partners at The Denver Post.

Denver7's Óscar Contreras contributed to this report.