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RTD Accountability Committee Hopes To Lure More Riders, Eyes Potentially Lower Fares

DENVER (CBS4) - Potentially lower fares is one of the recommendations from a list provided by the RTD Accountability Committee.

The goal of the committee is to keep RTD moving forward and ridership up. While ridership is slowly climbing, RTD data from May shows 58% fewer riders boarded its available transit services than in May of 2019, pre-pandemic.

The recommendation to lower and cut fares is to lure riders back. During the pandemic, some riders began working at home, while others were afraid of the threat of COVID-19.

Of course, if people are asked, would they rather pay less or more for something, the answer is likely going to be less. However, that may not translate to more riders in seats over a prolonged period at RTD.

"It is too expensive for most people and it's complicated to figure out," Pauletta Tonilas, RTD Spokesperson said.

RTD officials have heard the criticism that its fares are too high, especially compared to other large cities across the country. The district had already been studying its fare structure before the report was released. Tonilas said there were a lot of good recommendations, but changes can't happen all at once.

"To just slash fares or cut them for the temporary is a lot of times not as easy as people think, because you have to look at equity across the board," she explained.

In fact, Tonilas said figuring a fare structure requires a delicate balance, and working with the existing budget to make sure service is consistent and a standard of quality is met. But she did offer some hopeful news.

"We aren't sure where it could go, I think there's probably a good likelihood that a lower fare structure could be where we end up," she added.

Lower fares may not happen anytime soon, but RTD has until August to respond to some of the committee's recommendations while they work to complete their study.

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