Denver Transit Proposal Could Lower Fares, Make Transit Free for Youth

The agency released a draft plan to eliminate regional zones, make airport trips more affordable, and reduce fares systemwide.

2 minute read

February 16, 2023, 9:00 AM PST

By Diana Ionescu @aworkoffiction

RTD train Denver

Xnatedawgx / Wikimedia Commons

The Denver area Regional Transportation District (RTD) has unveiled a new draft plan for lowering fares, eliminating regional zones, and reducing the cost of monthly passes, reports Jon Murray in the Denver Post. The plan is based on the results of an “intensive systemwide study” undertaken by RTD in 2021. “The study’s mandate was to simplify RTD’s fare structure and reduce riders’ costs, which are at the upper end among U.S. transit agencies, especially for longer trips.”

Murray details the proposed changes, including lowering local fares and day pass fees, eliminating the regional fare, and reducing the cost of a monthly pass to $88, which would also include trips to the airport. The plan also suggests making fares free for youth under 19, increasing the low-income discount to 50 percent, and expanding its eligibility.

According to Murray, “More changes are possible, and RTD in the coming months will perform a federally required equity analysis to comply with civil rights laws.” The RTD board will vote on a final version in July, with new fares taking effect in early 2024.

The agency says it can afford the changes, since only 8 percent of operating expenses are covered by fare revenue, down from almost 16 percent before the Covid-19 pandemic. “The agency’s board briefing document projects that under the recommended fare and pass changes, revenue would drop next year to $73.5 million from $78.5 million, depending on whether the board approves a zero-fare youth pass pilot,” but ridership is expected to increase by 8 to 14 percent.

See the source article for more details on the proposed changes.

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