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RTD asks for input on commuting in Boulder County

Denver traffic increasing commute to Boulder

Some residents prefer a light rail option to buses.
Photo: Mailys Steibien · The Sentry

The B Line light rail route through RTD was approved by voters in 2004 to expand services and commuter transit across Denver’s metropolitan regions. The proposed stops include Flatiron, Louisville, Boulder Junction, and Downtown Longmont. In 2016, the B Line opened to the public from  the Denver to Westminster stops as part of the Eagle P3 project. However, the remaining stops on the proposed light rail service have yet to be built.

In the meantime, while light rail construction continues, RTD offers a bus service named the Flatiron Flyer, which provides seven different options to make up for the lack of rail service between Denver and the other six stops that have yet to be constructed on the B Line. However, bus commutes aren’t always a reliable option, considering Denver’s growing traffic problem and finicky winter weather. This can greatly delay commutes between the outskirts of Denver and downtown. 

“I think that traffic is a huge factor. Depending on what time I’m coming home, my commute varies so much. It can be anywhere from 20 minutes to an hour,” said Joshua Tibbetts, a recording arts major who takes the US 36 & Sheridan Flatiron Flyer to get to class every day.

RTD recently announced some changes to the current Boulder system that took effect in January 2019. Those changes include fare hikes that will increase fares from $2.60 to $3 for a local ride and regional rides to $5.25. These increased fares allow for RTD to offer other discounts to those under 18 and those making below 185 percent of the federal poverty line. RTD is also adjusting routes and schedules due to added terminals and added frequency of certain buses.   

While Tibbetts likes the quality of the buses themselves, commuting by bus sometimes involves getting caught in traffic. “The Flatiron Flyer buses are already super nice and are not the issue. The main issue, again, is traffic and unless RTD gets a separate lane, light rail is a much better option,” Tibbetts said.

Claudia Folska of the RTD Board of Directors can assure, “I commuted between the two campuses for eight years using the bus system, and I never really had any problems. Now that the service has been improved even more with the opening of the bus concourse under Union, the bus system is much safer than it used to be.”

Outside of the customer care lines that riders can contact, RTD has been seeking public input concerning various routes like the LD Route along US 287 or service along state highway 119, between Boulder and Longmont. RTD has held public forums over these issues over the month of February.

Overall, Denver’s growing population and traffic congestion is increasing the need for more public transportation options. According to a report from Inrix, Denverites spent 36 hours stuck in traffic in 2017. While buses are a great carpooling option to get a few extra cars off the road, there could also be some question as to whether buses are contributing to more traffic congestion and whether that could be improved by a light rail service or even designated bus lanes.

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