RTD to add third cars on light rail after protests

Light rail trains on four lines in the Regional Transportation District will resume running with three-car sets on weekdays after riders protested the decision to shorten them to two cars this week.

An RTD spokeswoman said the decision to operate smaller trains on lines D, E, W and H, which took effect on Monday, was based on low average ridership per train, well below the capacity of longer trains. But the lingering pandemic has changed some riders’ perceptions of how full trains should be, complicating RTD’s decisions.

This is particularly the case on commuter-intensive routes such as RTD’s light rail lines, which have recovered more slowly on average than bus lines. The recent wave of omicron variants of COVID-19 cases has delayed some of these gains.

“We have carefully considered the number of customers traveling by train. In doing so, we discovered that, throughout the day, the average number of people was 13 per train – not per car, per train,” RTD spokeswoman Laurie Huff wrote in an email. mail. “In an effort to reduce energy consumption, maintenance costs and equipment wear and tear, we have reduced the size (of the train) to match our ridership.”

Some runners have filed complaints, citing health and other issues, including when there were more than average passengers on board.

RTD has reversed its decision to run shorter trains, it said, and three-car sets will return from Monday.

“We respect the comments and concerns that customers have expressed about this decision, and we want to address them,” Huff said.

Face masks are still mandatory on board public transport vehicles. On Thursday, federal authorities extended the requirement one month, until April 18.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said it would work with other agencies during this time on a revised policy that may provide more flexibility depending on COVID-19 levels in a transit provider’s community and other factors.

Jose P. Rogers