New RTD board member eager to improve service, communication

A column by RTD Director Vince Buzek
Posted 1/23/19

Having been born and raised in a transit-dependent family in Chicago, my use of transit dates back to childhood. Buses and trains were the travel choice when my Schwinn Stingray couldn’t get me …

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New RTD board member eager to improve service, communication

Posted

Having been born and raised in a transit-dependent family in Chicago, my use of transit dates back to childhood. Buses and trains were the travel choice when my Schwinn Stingray couldn’t get me where I wanted to go. Moving to Colorado 25 years ago, I recall some disappointment with the lack of a robust transit system in our area although such a robust system was the end goal of RTD even at that time.

Fast forward to January 2018 and I am attending an RTD open-house in Westminster to hear about RTD’s plans for transit and FasTracks in the North Metro Area - where we live.

Again, I was disappointed. In essence, the message we heard is that the only solution to getting our commuter rail was to wait — probably until 2042. Having previously toyed with the idea of running for the soon-to-be vacant RTD Director position in my District (RTD is governed by a 15 member board of directors - kind of like a super city council), my decision was made. First, I don’t believe there is ever only one solution to a problem.

But, second, I don’t want to wait.

My campaign for the RTD Director position was straight-forward: build a website (www.vince4rtd.com), create a Facebook page (@vince4rtd) and work to get the endorsements of every mayor in my district, county commissioners, and other movers and shakers. As a result, I ran unopposed and was elected in November 2018.

Now the real work begins. RTD covers approximately 2,400 square miles of the Denver metro region and services about 3.1 million residents. RTD does a lot. But, for me, not enough. So, what are my plans as your newly-minted Director?

First, I would like to see an improvement in communications coming from RTD.

To that end, RTD has just hired a new Assistant General Manager of Communications. Pauletta Tonilas brings an extensive amount of experience and comes back to RTD. She was formerly in a public information role with RTD but left us for the Los Angles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority.

Hopefully this change will help RTD get its message and information out to the public in regular and consistent fashion. I believe that RTD needs to give the public as much information, good or bad, as it can.

To that end, my goal would be to see a vast improvement in RTD’s website to make it more user-friendly.

With regard to communication, I would also like to hear from you - the customers of RTD. My contact information is below and I will do everything I can to respond and get you the information you need.

Second, the elephant in the room - FasTracks completion. My RTD District, District J, has riders of the now operating B line and will have riders of the N (North Metro) Line and the G Line. You have probably heard about the controversy over crossing gates, flaggers and quiet zones (or lack of them at the moment). In any event, the unopened N and G lines need to be operational as soon as possible and the B Line needs to be extended to serve the many thousands of customers in its travel shed. RTD needs to explore all funding options and continue working with the federal regulators who will make the decisions on when the lines can begin service.

Finally, rail service is great and a key component to RTD’s overall operations, but bus service is the backbone of RTD.

On the north end, there is no express bus service north of 120th on the I-25 corridor and that needs to change. Further, there is not adequate work-force bus service to address the needs of the explosive growth along the I-25 corridor from 136th to Highway 7. We on the north end of the metro region have been paying into the system for as long as anyone else and still have critical unmet needs. I hope to be your advocate to improve the system.

Whether you like RTD or not, a large part of the frustration with the organization is that appears to move too slowly to bring transit on-line. The silver lining in this situation is that our frustration is borne out of a desire to have access to robust transit. We do want transit. While some may not see its benefit, most people recognize that good transit brings good jobs, opportunity and a better lifestyle overall.

Vince Buzek, RTD Director, District J. You can contact him at vince.buzek@rtd-denver.com or 720 663-8960.

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