Denver RTD estimates its ridership has dropped 60 percent through March 18

March 19, 2020
Starting today, March 19, the agency will introduce changes to the booking time frame for Access-a-Ride.

The Denver Regional Transportation District (RTD) says it estimates ridership on its system has dropped around 60 percent through March 18 due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, according to informal counts by Denver RTD staff across the transit system.

Denver RTD is now providing about 139,000 trips each weekday, compared with 347,800 weekday trips one year ago. The agency says it is working to quantify the effects the pandemic is having on its ridership and solidify actual ridership figures. For comparison, transit agencies across the United States have reported that they are experiencing a drop in ridership ranging from 45-80 percent.

“We are monitoring our ridership daily to watch for emerging trends,” said Denver RTD Interim General Manager and CEO Paul Ballard. “During these challenging times, we must be nimble while also continuing to serve our customers, especially those who rely on us.”

Denver RTD says it is committed to providing service to its customers, many of whom are transit dependent. It also says it recognizes the importance of continuing to serve healthcare workers and other professionals whose work is critical in fighting this disease.

Denver RTD’s Access-a-Ride paratransit service also has seen a steady decline in bookings. While average weekday trip demand is typically around 3,000 trips per day, with a 3-4 percent cancellation rate on the day of service, trip numbers this week are lower – and cancellation rates are higher:

  • Monday, March 16: 1,808 trips booked, 26 percent cancellation rate
  • Tuesday, March 17: 1,277 trips booked, 20 percent cancellation rate
  • Wednesday, March 18 (through mid-afternoon): 1,098 trips booked, 17 percent cancellation rate

Effective today, March 19, Access-a-Ride will suspend five-day advance bookings and allow customers to only book next-day trips. All standing orders from Friday, March 20, will be cancelled. Access-a-Ride customers still needing trips can call 303-292-6560 to book them. Denver RTD says it is making this change to reduce demand for staff and better serve its customers who need this service. This change will remain in place until Colorado Gov. Jared Polis lifts the state of emergency declaration he made on March 10.