DENVER — It was an historic weekend in Denver with the debut of the “train to the plane.” Early figures from RTD far exceeded its wildest expectations as about 80,000 people used the train on Friday and Saturday.
Early on, RTD figured the number would likely be 60,000.
“It was a great opening for us,” RTD spokesman Nate Currey said. “It’s worth it to take that $9 out to the airport vs. a $60 taxi ride or a $40 Uber.”
The 80,000 figure is likely because of the free rides offered on Friday and Saturday. Sunday was the first day travelers had to pay to use the train. It costs $9 to get to Denver International Airport from anywhere along RTD’s light rail and commuter lines.
On Sunday, ridership dipped incredibly low, which RTD expected. RTD attributed the dip to the fact Sunday is usually a slow ridership day for other services and the ride was no longer free.
But for $9, most people said it’s a deal that can’t be beat. Blake Suboticki said $40 Uber or Lyft rides were good for a while, but since he lives close to Union Station, the train will be cheaper. On top of that, he was excited knowing he would no longer have to bug friends for rides.
“The times where it’s been somewhat of an inconvenience for my friends to come and pick me up. If there was ever any hesitation, $9 solves that now, so I think it’s great,” Suboticki said.
His friend, Justin Norton, also agreed, but felt the price was steep compared to other train-to-airport services.
“I’m from Portland, originally, so taking the MAX Line out to the airport it’s only $4 or $5 I wanna say,” he said.
Along the train’s eight stops, businesses were also thrilled Sunday. The owner of Jake’s Sports & Spirits said his business across from the stop at 38th and Blake streets was booming this weekend.
“I would just say we probably had several hundred people over the course of the last two days, more than we normally would have,” said Andrew Feinstein, the bar’s owner.
The train came in handy for some of his customers, too. Mary Schwartz lives 14 miles away from Jake’s and wrote it off a while back because she said it was too difficult to find parking nearby. But with a train stop there, she’s back.
“It’s totally, absolutely perfect. I don’t come to this end of town much because I have to drive. And the parking is obnoxious,” Schwartz said.
The $9 fare is good for an entire day. If you pay to go from Union Station to the airport, you can also use the same pass to ride back to Union Station (or the other stops) that same day.