Equity is a core principle of RTD’s functional mission to provide public transit service within the Denver region. An equitable mass transit system ensures that the level and quality of public transportation is provided without discrimination or regard to race, color, national origin or low-income status.
A more equitable fare structure is a leading goal of the Systemwide Fare Study and Equity Analysis. RTD has defined equity for the fare study as supporting transit-reliant and/or financially burdened customers while providing equitable and fair access to fares, products and discounts regardless of race, color, national origin, income or other marginalized status.
To ensure equity, any benefits or negative impacts in the fare system must be fairly distributed among all customers. Protected populations (minority and low-income) must not be unevenly harmed by any fare changes (e.g., new fare prices, new fare products or programs or new payment options). Further, unprotected populations (non-minority and/or higher-income customers) must not unevenly benefit from changes to the fare system.
EQUITY AND THE SYSTEMWIDE FARE STUDY
The Systemwide Fare Study and Equity Analysis aims to create a fare structure that is more equitable, affordable and simple. The process centers on intentional and inclusive customer and community engagement as well as evaluations of the impacts of potential fare changes on protected populations, and includes:
Actively engaging underrepresented populations through partnerships with community-based organizations, including focus groups conducted by RTD’s community partners
Promoting inclusivity by conducting customer and community meetings in Spanish and ensuring the availability of language assistance, including translation of the study website and surveys, as well as providing educational materials that guide website visitors through the process of converting their web browsers into 20 different languages
Holding an Equity Feedback Panel that specifically sought input from organizations that serve Black, Indigenous and People of Color, low-income and other underrepresented communities
Conducting equity analyses of potential fare changes based on RTD’s Title VI Policies and in accordance with the Federal Transit Administration’s guidance
PRELIMINARY FARE EQUITY ANALYSIS OF FARE STRUCTURE ALTERNATIVES
RTD performed an initial fare equity analysis on Alternatives A and B. Neither alternative would have a Disparate Impact on minority customers or Disproportionate Burden on low-income customers. However, Alternative A performs slightly better than Alternative B in the equity analysis.
Importantly, the initial equity analysis did not include the additional fare policies and programs that RTD is considering. These additional policies and programs would enhance equity outcomes for both alternatives.
COMMUNITY FEEDBACK AND THE ALTERNATIVES
Alternatives A and B were developed based on customer and community feedback from the first two phases of public engagement (Engagement Milestone #1 in Spring 2022 and Engagement Milestone #2 in Summer 2022). A survey conducted in spring 2022 revealed split preferences between both the current fare structure, which maintains pricing based on distance traveled (the basis for Alternative A) and for a single fare for all distances (the basis for Alternative B). While Alternative B does not perform as well in the preliminary fare equity analysis, the survey still found strong support from minority and low-income survey respondents for a single fare, which Alternative B provides (the exception being for Airport fare).
Customer and community feedback during Engagement Milestone #3 (fall 2022) will be important for developing a recommendation. This feedback will help RTD understand whether minority and financially burdened customers prefer the lower fares in Alternative A or the single fare for Local and Regional services in Alternative B.
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.