'It's never been this bad': RTD passengers frustrated by recent light rail delays

RTD passengers are frustrated after a series of light rail delays, due to recent inspections.
Posted at 10:49 AM, Jun 13, 2024

Light rail passengers are frustrated after a week of heavy slowdowns for RTD. Multiple ongoing inspection and maintenance projects are causing significant delays.

The majority of the impacts are seen on the Southeast Light Rail Corridor running alongside Interstate 25 from Lone Tree to Broadway Station. RTD has reported delays over 45 minutes on the H, E and R lines.

"This is aggravating for everybody right now," said Stephanie Leschen, an RTD passenger and wheelchair user.

Leschen said she missed chemo appointments at the hospital due to the recent delays.

"It takes two hours just to get to the appointment," she said. "Two hours to come home and by the end of chemo, I'm dying.”

The passengers argue that a major contributor to the delays is RTD's 10 mph limits imposed this past week. The trains normally reach speeds of 55 mph, but due to recent inspections, they're traveling significantly below their top speed.

RTD issued the following statement on the recent speed cutbacks:

In May 2024, staff began a thorough inspection of light rail track along Interstate 25 to identify maintenance issues that may need to be addressed in the future. As issues were discovered along the rail alignment, and depending on their severity, RTD implemented speed restrictions until crews can complete necessary maintenance. The thorough and comprehensive inspections include examinations of RTD’s light rail track, ties, ballast, clips, overhead wire system, and other related infrastructure. All inspections are scheduled in advance and conducted with regular frequency by trained staff.

“What really irritates me is that public transportation truly is a trust item," said Ray Brown, an RTD passenger. "You're not only losing the ridership of the day, you lose that trust for years.”

Brown said he was redirected multiple times while traveling on the light rail to a physical therapy appointment. In total, he said the trip to and from his destination was 12 hours.

Ridership on RTD has seen a significant decrease since 2019. The pandemic led to the closure of the F line in 2020 and the E and H lines continue to struggle. Recent maintenance and inspection projects have also caused a significant drop.

RTD saw 661,000 riders in August of 2022 — a post-pandemic high. However, construction and maintenance projects saw another sharp decline to a low of 343,000 in December of 2023 and the most recent data from March of 2024 showed 500,000 boarders.

RTD announced a partnership with CDOT, to provide Bustang services to RTD riders.

The line runs between Colorado, Sky Ridge and the Denver Union Station through Sept. 14. RTD customers must show valid RTD fare to board the bus.

RTD said passengers can board Bustang at the following locations:

  • Denver Union Station – Gate B4 of the downstairs bus concourse 
  • Colorado Station – Gate E 
  • Sky Ridge Station – In front of station. No RTD customer parking available.

You can find the schedule for Bustang here.


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