RTD votes to reduce service on R-Line and W-Line amid low ridership

Posted at 10:54 PM, Oct 24, 2017
and last updated 2017-10-25 04:51:42-04

DENVER – Passengers who ride the Aurora R-Line along I-225, and those who ride the Golden W-Line, west of the Federal Center, will notice longer wait times for weekend trains come January 10.

RTD’s Board of Directors voted Tuesday to reduce off-peak service on the public transit’s newest light rail lines due to poor ridership.

Although the approved cuts are not as drastic as initially proposed, the service reduction will see the frequency of trains on the two lines reduced from every 15 minutes to every 30 minutes during off-peak times.

"Passenger counts are struggling," said RTD spokesman Nate Currey. "The R-Line is underperforming the other lines by about two-thirds."

Just 4,694 riders board the R-Line trains Monday through Thursday, and only 2,800 on Sundays. So RTD is scaling back weekend service on the new line from every 15 minutes to 30-minute intervals. The weekday service will stay the same.

"We would prefer no cutbacks," said Aurora Mayor Steve Hogan, "We'd like to see more marketing."

He said RTD did a great job of marketing the A-Line to the airport, and he'd like to see something similar with the R-Line.

"But I'm a realist," he said. "I'm not going to fall on this sword and end up with cuts all the time. If I have to compromise, as I said, this is a compromise I can accept."

Hogan notes that hundreds of housing units are under construction near the R-Line Iliff Station and the new VA hospital is scheduled to open in 2018, which he said should bring more riders to the line.

The W-Line, which provides service to Golden, will see the same interval reductions west of the Federal Center during off-peak times. Begining in January, trains will operate once every 30 minutes during evenings and weekends.

"The good news is the rail is not going away," Currey said. "We're not tearing it up, and we can always add trains back."

Frequent passengers aren't happy about the cuts.

"I work weekends," said RTD passenger, Dawnarie Brooks. "I need to get from point A to point B.  We've got people picking up kids, dropping off kids, going to the grocery store, going to the pharmacy, going to the doctor. What happens?"

Brooks told Denver7 that she's not looking forward to longer wait times during the winter.

"Colorado has been known to be an ice rink at times," she said. "This is my buggy. This is my chariot. This is my coach. I don't drive."