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RTD’s proposed fare changes could hike Access-a-Ride prices

DENVER -- RTD's board of directors is just about two months away from voting on fare changes that could decrease some ticket prices and increase others.

For more than the last year, the Pass Program Working Group has been talking with community groups and recently recommended reducing fares for low-income and youth riders, while increasing fares for others.

This increase would affect Access-a-Ride, as well.

Access-a-Ride is a door-to-door service for qualified riders with disabilities, whose trips begin and end within three-quarters of a mile of a fixed-route stop and are reserved at least one day in advance.

"I think that transportation is actually a great equalizer overall for humans; if you cannot [get] from place to place, you stay isolated," said Louise Apodaca, a community activist for the Colorado Cross-Disability Coalition.

She utilizes Access-a-Ride a number of times each week, as she travels around the city to help others with disabilities.

Apodaca is also concerned that the recommended Access-a-Ride fare increase -- from $4.70 to $6.00 per trip -- would make the trips too expensive for some riders.

But it's also expensive for RTD. It costs RTD about $40 to $50 for each Access-a-Ride trip.

"It’s a very important population segment that we serve, and the fact that it is something that is relatively expensive, is something we take very seriously. And we are very happy to provide that service," RTD's Scott Reed told FOX31.

"We have to balance any type of a reduction with some type of an increase to make sure it all pencils out," Reed said. "Otherwise, we’re looking at cutting service, which harms the people we’re there to serve in the first place."

Apodaca acknowledges that. And while she hopes the service stays the same, she's concerned the cost could affect the independence of those with disabilities who have fixed incomes and rely on RTD's Access-a-Ride.

"That would mean I would have less of an opportunity to go to the movies, go to the theater... any kind of recreational thing that sets us apart, meaning that we want to do things and thrive within the community," Apodaca said.

RTD is holding four meetings this week to hear what the public thinks of Pass Program Working Group's recommendations. Find more information about them and submit a comment online by clicking here.

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