Will RTD’s changes affect the way you commute?
What will it take to get us out of our cars and onto the bus?
Hi! It’s Bree. From the podcast. I wanna tell you about the time I was a mass transit rider.
For one glorious year, I was a public transit devotee. From 2007 to 2008, I lived in New York City and regularly traveled from my apartment in Crown Heights, Brooklyn, to my job as a shop girl at a fancy shoe store in SoHo. I took two trains and hoofed it a few blocks each day, schlepping my purse, gym bag, lunch, and an extra pair of shoes across the city. And it was the best.
Some of my clearest memories of my time in New York are of the subway – waiting for the 6 train at Astor Place while a guy played “Weak” by SWV on his keytar. Or the first time I saw human shit on a subway platform only to later understand, as a more seasoned transit rider, that this was most likely out of necessity, as the subway has no public restrooms (which I still can’t comprehend, considering how much time millions of New Yorkers spend in these underground spaces every day).
My subway riding days were also the only time in my life that I’ve managed to read a dozen books in a year — public transit offered me loads of unbothered time. One particular book I picked up was “The Secret,” a new age hoax that had me thinking the nurse with eight kids sitting next to me on the 4 train really was an angel sent to help me figure out my life. (In reality, I think she was just exchanging pleasantries with me to be polite, suffering through another commute next to a wide-eyed n00b who parachuted into her city.)
Listen, I know how precious this all sounds. Like, “Look at her! That cute little subway rider who touristed around NYC for a year without a care in the world!” But beyond that singular year, I’ve otherwise lived in Colorado and been a car driver or rider my whole life. I joke that a “Colorado carpool” is five people taking four cars to get somewhere.
It is an immense privilege to drive and have access to a car. It is also expensive and terrible for the environment. It’s unsafe at virtually any speed. It is — I am — the reason traffic exists. And contrary to grumblings from fellow born n’ raised folk, “traffic” isn’t a problem that was magically invented 10 years ago with our latest growth spurt as a city. It happens when people like me insist on driving everywhere.
Something I think about often: What would it take to get someone like me, the typical Colorado single occupant car driver, out of my car and onto a bus or train? I live near a major intersection (one that is terrifying for pedestrians because of, um, cars) that has buses running along it all day. I also live a 20-minute walk from the Light Rail. It’s not convenient, but it’s not out of reach, either.
Today on the podcast, I talk with CPR reporter Nathaniel Minor about RTD’s latest proposed overhaul of our transit system. Any time we cover transit on the show, I contend with the nagging notion that I am that person who drives everywhere. And I know I’m not alone — I know you fellow drivers are out there too, some of you also wondering what it would take to get you out of your car. I mean, if RTD is undergoing a once-in-several-decades overhaul, maybe it’s time for drivers like me to do the same.
For today’s episode, Nathaniel and I discussed the proposed changes to RTD’s massive coverage area, what budgets have to do with it, and if this is a move toward a more equitable transit system. The key word here is proposed, though — there is still plenty of time for input from you, the constituents, riders (and potential riders) of RTD to weigh in. Here are some ways you can do that:
- Read more about the proposed changes and RTD’s full plan here.
- Share your thoughts directly with RTD via this interactive map.
- Find out which RTD District you’re in by using this map; then, connect with your RTD Board Director here.
- Find out what Denver City Council district you’re in using this map and share your thoughts on RTD’s potential changes with your councilperson here.
Also — I want to hear from you! Are you a bus rider who will be impacted by these changes? Are you someone who drives but thinks about riding the bus? Do you have big feelings about RTD? Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
🎧 LISTEN: Why is RTD “Dramatically” Overhauling Bus Routes Now? The Regional Transportation District (RTD) is still paying off huge loans from old projects, bus drivers are leaving the fleet in droves, and ridership remains far below pre-pandemic levels. So why is now the right time for RTD to propose its biggest overhaul of bus routes since the 1970s? Today on the podcast, CPR’s transportation reporter Nathaniel Minor helps us connect all the dots.
— Bree Davies, Host of City Cast Denver and Shameful Single Occupant Car Driver
Other Denver Odds and Ends
🐾 Betty White would be proud: Metro area animal shelters were flooded with tens of thousands of dollars this week, all in the name of Betty White. Social media’s #BettyWhiteChallenge encouraged people to donate $5 to their local animal rescue in the name of the Golden Girl for what would have been her 100th birthday on Jan. 17. White, who died on New Year’s Eve, was known for her devotion to animals.
♻️ Colorado concert venues ditch throwaway plastic for good: Entertainment promoter AEG Rocky Mountain Presents — which runs many prominent venues including the Ogden, the Bluebird, the Gothic, and Mission Ballroom — has made the switch from landfill-destined plastic cups to heartier, washable, reusable plastic cups that are meant to withstand at least a couple dozen uses. Trial runs show that 95% of customers are returning the cups to the “wash hub” at the end of concerts.
🚫 Where are King Soopers negotiations now? Still at a good ol’ fashioned stand-off, it appears. After Monday’s bargaining meeting that began around 3 p.m., UFCW Local 7, the union representing the striking workers, shared this update well after midnight: “We concluded for the night. No progress, but we will return tomorrow morning…”
✏️ DPS students threaten a walkout: KN95/N95 masks, twice weekly PCR testing, stricter social distancing measures, and the option for remote learning are just some of the things that Thomas Jefferson High School students are demanding from the district. “If the district has not met our needs by Wednesday, Jan 19, 2022, the student body will walk out the following day in protest. We will continue to walk out every day until our demands are met,” reads the description on the students’ change.org petition that has garnered over 600 signatures.