RTD to resume Free MallRide service
The Regional Transportation District (RTD) plans to resume its Free MallRide service on Sunday, putting back into place a key connector for downtown Denver residents, commuters and visitors as more people start to move around the region.
The popular service was suspended in April when RTD reduced service due to low ridership resulting from the pandemic. MallRide shuttles will be operating along the 16th Street Mall this week for staff training, in preparation for the change this weekend.
Reinstituting MallRide service is an important step in getting the region moving again – also the focus of an education effort launching today on all of RTD’s platforms. Riders will see messages on RTD vehicles and the agency’s social media channels. The campaign emphasizes all the measures RTD is taking to instill confidence in riding the system again, and showcases the various actions the agency has been implementing to keep people safe. The effort reinforces that RTD is ready to serve the public when they are ready to ride.
“We want our customers to know that we are all in this together, and as part of the community, RTD has faced the same challenges and uncertainties as they have during these extraordinary times, but we are here and ready to help the region get back on track with safety as our number one priority,” said Chief Executive Officer and General Manager Paul Ballard. “RTD is a key partner to reviving the region as it begins to reopen. We are not only a life line to many, but an economic driver connecting people to the places they want and need to go.”
An online survey conducted by the agency last month, completed by nearly 2,700 people, showed that most were not quite ready to ride public transportation. When asked how safe it is to take part in certain activities, respondents said they felt less safe riding RTD than taking part in the other options presented, including going to a grocery store, visiting family or friends, or exercising outside. Most people who had not ridden RTD in the prior 30 days say they’ll wait and see what happens with the coronavirus before riding again. Respondents also gave feedback on the factors that would make them feel safer to hop back on board. Some of that input includes requiring operators and passengers to wear masks, cleaning and sanitizing vehicles, observing social distancing and seeing a significant decrease in new COVID cases.
Ridership on RTD services dropped about 70 percent as a result of the pandemic, based upon informal counts by staff. However, RTD continues to provide 120,000 trips each weekday, and it has added back service on more popular routes – including the 15, 40, 105 and 121 – to allow for social distancing.
RTD’s core value of safety is reflected in the steps the agency has taken internally and externally to combat the coronavirus. These include distributing masks and face coverings, sanitizer, disinfectant and gloves to all front-line employees and requiring them to wear face coverings, instituting social distancing in RTD facilities and on RTD vehicles, conducting daily cleaning and sanitizing of all RTD vehicles, and urging riders to wear face coverings.
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