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A young girl with light skin pulls the stop cable while sitting next to her mother on an RTD bus.

A more equitable fare structure was a primary goal of the Systemwide Fare Study and Equity Analysis. For the purposes of the fare study, RTD defined equity as supporting transit-reliant and financially burdened customers while providing fair access to fares, products and discounts regardless of race, color, national origin, income or other marginalized status.

The intent of this assessment was to ensure the impacts of the fare changes would be fairly distributed among all customers. To do this, RTD conducted an equity analysis to ensure protected populations (minority and low-income) would not be unevenly harmed by fare changes (e.g. new fare prices, products or programs or new ways to pay for fares) and unprotected populations (non-minority and/or non-low-income customers) would not unevenly benefit.

FARE EQUITY

EQUITY AND THE SYSTEMWIDE FARE STUDY

To create a more equitable fare structure, the study prioritized intentional and inclusive customer and community engagement as well as evaluations of the impacts of potential fare changes on protected populations. Throughout the study, RTD:

  • Actively engaged historically underrepresented populations through partnerships with community-based organizations, including focus groups conducted by RTD’s community partners (including Athletics and Beyond, CREA Results, Cultivando, Denver Streets Partnership, Focus ReEntry and Una Mano Una Esperanza) and surveys of organizations that serve underrepresented community members 

  • Promoted language access by conducting customer and community meetings in Spanish and ensuring the availability of language assistance, through translation of the study website, handouts, and surveys

  • Held Equity Feedback Panels where diverse community members representing many unique identities used customer and community input to inform how RTD’s fare structure can meet the study’s equity goals

  • Conducted fare equity analyses of potential changes based on RTD’s Title VI Policies and in accordance with Federal Transit Administration guidance

Learn more about Title VI and its impact on the equity analysis below.

  • HOW DO EACH OF THE ALTERNATIVES ACHIEVE THE STUDY'S OBJECTIVES OF EQUITY, AFFORDABILITY AND SIMPLICITY?
    As part of the Fare Study and Equity Analysis, RTD has used a combination of qualitative and quantitative assessments to evaluate how these two draft alternatives achieve fare equity, affordability and simplicity. Here is a brief summary of the results: EQUITY Alternative A achieves a positive impact on equity. Under this alternative, financially burdened and minority customers experience a greater decrease in average fare prices than overall customers. Three of the fare products with the largest price decreases in percentage terms are the Local 3-Hour, Day and Monthly Passes — fare products that financially burdened customers rely on. Alternative B achieves a neutral impact on equity. Under this alternative, there is no decrease in the Local fare, which is used more by financially burdened customers. Instead, the decreases in the Regional fares largely benefit higher-income and non-minority customers, who experience a greater decrease in the average fare than low-income and minority customers. AFFORDABILITY Alternative A achieves a positive impact on affordability. Under this alternative, all RTD customers benefit. This alternative also retains the current price differences between Local, Regional and Airport levels, offering a lower fare for shorter distance trips. Alternative B achieves a neutral impact on affordability. Under this alternative, because the Regional fare price decreases while the Local fare price stays the same, only a portion of RTD customers benefit. Further, this alternative does not retain the price difference between Local and Regional trips, removing a higher fare for longer distance trips. SIMPLICITY Alternative A achieves a neutral impact on simplicity. Because this alternative retains the different fare levels (Local, Regional and Airport), the structure is not simplified from its current state. Alternative B achieves a positive impact on simplicity. Under this alternative, the fare structure is consolidated to two fare levels — airport and non-airport — decreasing the complexity of the current fare structure.
  • WHY DIDN'T RTD LOWER FARES MORE SIGNIFICANTLY FOR BOTH ALTERNATIVES?
    Customers showed a desire for lower fares but also preferred maintaining current service levels over deeper price reductions. RTD conducted fare modeling to ensure that both alternatives lowered fares and/or achieved other goals, such as simplicity, while not impacting existing routes or service levels and ensuring financial sustainability. RTD is committed to achieving the goals of equity, affordability and simplicity through this study and has developed alternatives that allow for services to be maintained and fares to be lowered despite rising inflation.
  • WHAT IS FARE CAPPING, AND HOW DOES FARE CAPPING WORK WITH EACH ALTERNATIVE?
    RTD launched fare capping on September 1, 2022 with the implementation of the new MyRide system, also known as Account-Based Ticketing (ABT). Fare capping ensures customers never pay more than they should for trips on RTD buses and trains. When customers purchase fares using their mobile MyRide barcode or MyRide card, the system caps the maximum customers will pay in a day and in a month. For example: If a customer takes a Local trip in the morning, they will be charged for a Local 3-Hour Pass. If they take a second Local trip later that day, they will be charged for another Local 3-Hour Pass but will automatically earn a Local Day Pass, and they will not be charged for any additional Local trips on that day. Similarly, once a customer has been charged for 38 Local trips in a month, they have earned a Local Monthly Pass, and any additional Local trips in that month are free of charge. If a customer takes Regional or Airport trips, or any combination of Local, Regional and Airport trips, they will never be charged more than the cost of a Regional/Airport Day Pass in a day, and the cost of a Regional Monthly Pass in a month. Under the current fare structure, the maximum charge per day is $10.50 and the maximum charge per month is $200 for a customer paying full fare. The fare capping system helps make fares more equitable and affordable for customers by eliminating the upfront cost of a Monthly Pass and enabling customers to pay towards a longer-term pass over time. Fare capping will continue under either Alternatives A or B. This means customers who ride frequently will benefit from the reduced Monthly Pass prices even if they have not purchased a Monthly Pass upfront.
  • HOW WILL ACCESS-A-RIDE SERVICES BE IMPACTED BY THE PROPOSED FARE STRUCTURE ALTERNATIVES?
    The Access-a-Ride fare structure and fare rates continue to be evaluated. Access-a-Ride customers will continue to be able to ride RTD bus, light rail and commuter rail services free of charge with their Access-a-Ride ID card.

FARE EQUITY ANALYSIS OF
THE NEW FARE STRUCTURE

RTD performed a fare equity analysis on the new fare structure. The analysis found that the changes would have neither a Disparate Impact on minority customers nor a Disproportionate Burden on low-income customers. Moreover, though not all of the additional fare policies and programs that RTD is implementing could be included in the fare equity analysis, these policies and programs further enhance equity outcomes for the new fare structure.

  • HOW DO EACH OF THE ALTERNATIVES ACHIEVE THE STUDY'S OBJECTIVES OF EQUITY, AFFORDABILITY AND SIMPLICITY?
    As part of the Fare Study and Equity Analysis, RTD has used a combination of qualitative and quantitative assessments to evaluate how these two draft alternatives achieve fare equity, affordability and simplicity. Here is a brief summary of the results: EQUITY Alternative A achieves a positive impact on equity. Under this alternative, financially burdened and minority customers experience a greater decrease in average fare prices than overall customers. Three of the fare products with the largest price decreases in percentage terms are the Local 3-Hour, Day and Monthly Passes — fare products that financially burdened customers rely on. Alternative B achieves a neutral impact on equity. Under this alternative, there is no decrease in the Local fare, which is used more by financially burdened customers. Instead, the decreases in the Regional fares largely benefit higher-income and non-minority customers, who experience a greater decrease in the average fare than low-income and minority customers. AFFORDABILITY Alternative A achieves a positive impact on affordability. Under this alternative, all RTD customers benefit. This alternative also retains the current price differences between Local, Regional and Airport levels, offering a lower fare for shorter distance trips. Alternative B achieves a neutral impact on affordability. Under this alternative, because the Regional fare price decreases while the Local fare price stays the same, only a portion of RTD customers benefit. Further, this alternative does not retain the price difference between Local and Regional trips, removing a higher fare for longer distance trips. SIMPLICITY Alternative A achieves a neutral impact on simplicity. Because this alternative retains the different fare levels (Local, Regional and Airport), the structure is not simplified from its current state. Alternative B achieves a positive impact on simplicity. Under this alternative, the fare structure is consolidated to two fare levels — airport and non-airport — decreasing the complexity of the current fare structure.
  • WHY DIDN'T RTD LOWER FARES MORE SIGNIFICANTLY FOR BOTH ALTERNATIVES?
    Customers showed a desire for lower fares but also preferred maintaining current service levels over deeper price reductions. RTD conducted fare modeling to ensure that both alternatives lowered fares and/or achieved other goals, such as simplicity, while not impacting existing routes or service levels and ensuring financial sustainability. RTD is committed to achieving the goals of equity, affordability and simplicity through this study and has developed alternatives that allow for services to be maintained and fares to be lowered despite rising inflation.
  • WHAT IS FARE CAPPING, AND HOW DOES FARE CAPPING WORK WITH EACH ALTERNATIVE?
    RTD launched fare capping on September 1, 2022 with the implementation of the new MyRide system, also known as Account-Based Ticketing (ABT). Fare capping ensures customers never pay more than they should for trips on RTD buses and trains. When customers purchase fares using their mobile MyRide barcode or MyRide card, the system caps the maximum customers will pay in a day and in a month. For example: If a customer takes a Local trip in the morning, they will be charged for a Local 3-Hour Pass. If they take a second Local trip later that day, they will be charged for another Local 3-Hour Pass but will automatically earn a Local Day Pass, and they will not be charged for any additional Local trips on that day. Similarly, once a customer has been charged for 38 Local trips in a month, they have earned a Local Monthly Pass, and any additional Local trips in that month are free of charge. If a customer takes Regional or Airport trips, or any combination of Local, Regional and Airport trips, they will never be charged more than the cost of a Regional/Airport Day Pass in a day, and the cost of a Regional Monthly Pass in a month. Under the current fare structure, the maximum charge per day is $10.50 and the maximum charge per month is $200 for a customer paying full fare. The fare capping system helps make fares more equitable and affordable for customers by eliminating the upfront cost of a Monthly Pass and enabling customers to pay towards a longer-term pass over time. Fare capping will continue under either Alternatives A or B. This means customers who ride frequently will benefit from the reduced Monthly Pass prices even if they have not purchased a Monthly Pass upfront.
  • HOW WILL ACCESS-A-RIDE SERVICES BE IMPACTED BY THE PROPOSED FARE STRUCTURE ALTERNATIVES?
    The Access-a-Ride fare structure and fare rates continue to be evaluated. Access-a-Ride customers will continue to be able to ride RTD bus, light rail and commuter rail services free of charge with their Access-a-Ride ID card.

LEARN MORE

View the full fare equity analysis findings here.

A mother and son with medium skin peek their heads out to check for the approaching RTD light-rail train.

COMMUNITY FEEDBACK AND THE RECOMMENDED FARE STRUCTURE

Community feedback was integral to the development of the new fare structure, policies and programs. To learn more about the fare study process and how customer and community feedback has shaped the direction, visit the fare study engagement process overview page.

EFFECTIVE COMMUNICATION

RTD will take steps to ensure that communication with members of the public with disabilities is effective throughout the study. Persons who require materials in alternative formats, need sign language interpretation, or require other communication consideration for participation, please contact RTD’s ADA Manager at Gabe.Christie@rtd-denver.com. Please provide three business days notice for services to be arranged.

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