RTD to suspend fares, halt downtown shuttle amid coronavirus pandemic

Starting Sunday, RTD will stop charging fares for bus or train service, suspend the 16th Street Free MallRide and Free MetroRide and implement rear-door boarding on buses to create distance between driver and passenger as part of an effort to reduce the likelihood of coronavirus spread.

The Regional Transportation District announced the changes Friday after meeting with its safety consultant about how best to run its trains and buses in the face of a world pandemic.

An RTD spokeswoman on Friday said fares will be suspended because fare boxes on buses are at the front of the vehicle, next to where the driver sits. She said the fare suspension is being applied across the whole system “so as not to discriminate against any group of riders.”

Passengers who use a wheelchair should continue to board RTD vehicles at the front, where a wheelchair lift is available. Passengers using RTD’s over-the-road coaches will need to continue using the front door, as there is no rear door on those regional buses.

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The agency is working through processes for refunds and exchanges on applicable fare products as part of the district-wide fare suspension.

Service is also being suspended on the 16thStreet Free MallRide and Free MetroRide because both lines are experiencing low ridership as people stay home from work and restaurants and shops remain closed. Because the MallRide buses offer multiple-door boarding and exiting, RTD will move as many of them as possible to regular routes.

RTD has seen a dramatic drop in ridership across its entire system over the last few weeks, as stay-at-home orders have kept people from their regular commuting patterns. The agency is putting in place a dramatic service reduction starting April 19 as confirmed coronavirus infections approach 4,000 in Colorado.

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