CO RTD DIRECTOR District G
Regional Transit District (RTD) is governed by a 15-member, publicly elected Board of Directors. Elections are staggered with eight (8) seats open in this general election. They are elected to a four-year term by the voters in their specific district. Board members actively support and advocate for constituents’ concerns, while providing governance and establishing policies for the agency.The eight Directors for Districts A, D, E, F, G, H, I, and M will be elected in 2020.The Regional Transportation District provides public transportation in eight counties including all of Boulder, Broomfield, Denver and Jefferson counties, parts of Adams, Arapahoe and Douglas Counties, and a small portion of Weld County. Services include bus, rail, shuttles, ADA paratransit services, demand-responsive services like FlexRide, special event services, vanpools, and many more. The Regional Transportation District was created in 1969 by the 47th session of the Colorado General Assembly.ELECTION INFO: General Election ballots will start to be mailed on October 9th, 2020. Voter Service and Polling Centers open on Monday, October 19th, 2020. Ballots must be received via mail or at drop-off no later than Tuesday, November 3rd, 2020, by 7 pm. If you have not received your ballot or need a replacement, contact your local Clerk & Recorder Elections Office.Junta de Directores de RTDEl Distrito de Tránsito Regional (RTD) es gobernado por una Junta Directora de 15 elegidos públicamente. Las elecciones son espaciadas y tiene ocho (8) cargos abiertos para esta elección general. Son electos por votantes de su distrito específico para un mandato de cuatro años. Los miembros de la junta apoyan activamente, y defienden a constituyentes mientras proporcionan gobernación y establecen políticas para la agencia. Se elegirán a los 8 Directores para los Distritos A, D, E, F, G, H, I, y M en 2020.El Distrito de Transporte Regional proporciona transporte público en ocho condados, incluyendo completamente a los Condados de Boulder, Broomfield, Denver, y Jefferson, partes de los Condados de Adams, Arapahoe y Douglas, y una parte pequeña del Condado de Weld. Los servicios incluyen servicios de autobús, tren, colectivo, servicios de paratránsito de ADA, servicios determinados por necesidad como FlexRide, servicios de eventos especiales, caravanas, y muchos más. El Distrito de Transporte Regional fue creado en 1969 por la 47ª sesión de la Asamblea General de Colorado.INFROMACIÓN SOBRE LAS ELECCIONES: Las papeletas de votación para las Elecciones Generales empezarán a ser enviadas el 9 de octubre del 2020. Los Centros de Servicios Electorales se abren el lunes, 19 de octubre del 2020. Las papeletas electorales deben ser enviadas por correo o entregadas en un centro de entrega a más tardar a las 7pm el martes, 3 de noviembre del 2020. Si no ha recibido su papeleta electoral o necesita un reemplazo, comuníquese con su Funcionario Oficial de la Oficina de Elecciones local.
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What will be your first priority as an RTD Director and why?
How would you address the RTD driver shortage that affected services prior to the COVID pandemic?
What actions would you recommend the RTD implement to recover from lack of revenue caused by the COVID pandemic?
I have grown up here in Douglas County, and now I am fortunate enough to be a teacher for DCSD. I have been a frequent RTD user since I attended the University of Denver. I used the E or F line almost everyday to get to school. My wife and I now use RTD as often as we can to travel our great state.
My first priority as an RTD director would be to initiate an information campaign for the public. I would want this campaign to focus on the significance of COVID safety. Riders need to be informed that using our trains and buses is perfectly safe as long as they wear a mask and socially distance during their ride. RTD has faced a massive rider decline since the pandemic struck, but if we look at the past years you will see that ridership has been down since 2014. I would pair our information campaign with a lowering of fare rates to encourage more ridership. We are one of the most expensive public transportation systems in the entire country, and we need to make fare rates more affordable. If we enacted these policies as a board, we will begin to see an increase in ridership. RTD’s largest issue right now is a massive budget deficit and the way to fix this is to grow our ridership.
RTD hired around 1,000 drivers in 2017. 201 of the 216 train operators they hired have left RTD. That is a 93% turnover rate. 710 of 1,083 bus drivers they hired have quit. That is a 66% turnover rate. Drivers are being asked to work 13 hour shifts, 6 days a week. I do not want an exhausted driver, or operator, running our trains and buses. I want employees to feel respected, and I want RTD employees to feel heard. As a teacher here in Douglas County, I can understand the frustration these drivers are experiencing. I know how it feels to be overworked, underpaid and underappreciated. As a director, one of the first actions I would spearhead is revising the working conditions for RTD drivers and operators. I would ensure that we have scheduled town halls with the drivers and operators, where they alone can speak to the board regarding their concerns. I want our employees to enjoy working for RTD, so much so that they encourage other riders and operators to come work for us.
The lack of revenue is based on the lack of riders. We have lost riders for the last five years at a constant level, and the pandemic has exponentially worsened this problem. After we initiate our information campaign to the public about safely riding, we would lower fares to a reasonable rate. We are one of the most expensive public transportation systems in the entire country, yet we lack the accessibility and efficiency of other major transportation networks. Making our rates competitive with the rest of the country is an important step in making RTD a long-lasting, affordable and popular means of transportation here in Colorado. If we do not fix the course we are on, RTD is going to continue to face a massive budget crisis, increasing driver shortages and a lack of riders. I do not want to continue to see our trains and buses empty. I want to see more riders, so we can actually decrease traffic and decrease pollution in our growing state. I want to get RTD back on track.
Ken is the incumbent RTD Director and a long time Douglas County resident. Ken has a MBA from Texas Christian University and moved from Texas to work in the growing CO aerospace industry.
Regardless of season, he enjoys nearly everything CO has to offer.
I wish there was just one. The bigger or more important the issue, the more it overlaps and all too often competes with other priorities. My hope is to continue the work that falls under the umbrella of Reimagine RTD. This is meant to be a blank canvas, ground up redesign of the system. It became even more complex for example, after the unforeseen changes in sales tax collections and commuting needs this year. The scale of this effort includes collaboration with other Board members and RTD staff and working effectively with stakeholders at many levels.
The operator shortage started manifesting in 2015. Service hours gradually grew, outpacing the ability to provide the increased service. Not only was the agency lacking in operators, but there were inadequate numbers of mechanics and repair specialists. Trying to get ahead of the problem, there were changes made not only to compensation, but there were improvements to training and hiring, added retention and referral incentives, among a number of other changes.
At the same time there was strong demand for commercial drivers and delivery services. Denver was not alone, there was a global operator shortage across transit agencies.
This was the probably the most discussed topic, and the one I received the most complaints about, during 2017-2019. Hiring of new bus and light rail operators remained steady. Unfortunately, with a 6 day work schedule among other factors, retention of of new hires became very difficult.
The challenge now is to match up operators with new service levels.
The financial impact to RTD is substantial. Though an unfavorable position at the Capital and to residents in northern areas, I support using a ~$120M FasTracks fund for 2021 operations. Additionally, I support all manner of overhead reduction. The reality is that RTD needs to be, and will be, smaller than it is now. Currently, Douglas county has the largest spread in money paid versus services received. I do not support any initiative that worsens the spread. Additionally, I would oppose any new tax initiatives. However, there are mechanisms, namely a voucher program, that can save money on operations, distribute funds more equitably, and provide more flexibility to users.
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