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Aurora residents worry their R-Line commute about to be derailed

AURORA, Colo. -- Aurora residents worry RTD will go ahead with the proposed changes to the R-Line service, a plan it went over again at Thursday's Town Hall. It's a decision residents say would derail commutes for those who now depend on it.

RTD's R-line travels through Aurora and opened up in February. RTD said of all the lines it operates, R-line's ridership is by far the lowest, averaging 40 passengers per hour.

RTD said it conducted a study, and found it can save nearly $3 million by reducing R-line service on weekends and non-peak hours. Plus, spokesperson Nate Currey said freeing up trains could give RTD the opportunity to implement them elsewhere, like adding a fast track train from Aurora to downtown.

Residents who depend on the R-line are angry, arguing changes hurt service workers and low-income people who work off-hours and depend on the R-Line for their commute.

Douglas Howey said the R-line saves him hours commuting to doctors appointments in Highlands Ranch.

"After two and a half hours on buses, I'm to the point with my brain where I can't even speak well anymore because the stress. It's a stressor to me," said Howey.

At the town hall Monday, he asked RTD to give the new service more time.

"How can we decide after just a few short months?" said Howey.

Aurora's Mayor Steve Hogan is furious at RTD's proposal. He said businesses and apartment complexes decided to build around the new line with the expectation that service would be operating at full strength.

"I think the process is flawed. I think looking at something when it's been open for a very short time makes no sense," said Hogan.

Hogan said he's also angry RTD gave the city of Aurora no information before announcing the proposal to reduce service.

"Since it opened at the end of February, I've made several requests, 'How's the ridership going? What's happening?' Never got an answer, never got an answer until there was a proposal to cut back service," said Hogan. "When you run into trouble, you work with your partners, not ignore your partners."

Currey said making changes to services is common and RTD assess each line three times a year. Currey said if demand increases, RTD will add service back to the R-line.

RTD's board will vote October 17. If it decides to make changes, those changes will roll out the first week of January.

For those who wish to send their thoughts on the R-line to RTD's board, use this link to email your comments.