RTD facing $1.3 billion shortfall by 2026; governor creates oversight group

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DENVER (KDVR) — Gov. Jared Polis announced plans Wednesday for an RTD Accountability Committee, which aims to be an independent group that will make suggestions for services, budgets and more for the struggling Regional Transportation District.

RTD is predicting a budget shortfall of $252 million for 2021 and $1.3 billion by 2026.

“RTD has been facing challenges for quite some time,” said RTD Board Chair Angie Rivera-Malpiede. “Then COVID hit, further compounding our challenges.”

The committee is set to have 11 people on it. Polis and the chairs of the state House and Senate transportation committees will appoint them.

“The purpose of this is to not ask RTD to do the impossible…to go raise a unicorn. It’s not that,” said state Rep. Matt Gray.

RTD was facing a decline in ridership prior to the coronavirus. Daily boardings decreased by about eight million from 2014 to 2019.

Andrew Goetz, a professor in the University of Denver’s geography and environment department and a transportation expert, said public transit nationwide faced similar issues. One reason, he said, was a strong economy where many people bought new vehicles and drove more.

Goetz said the new committee could be beneficial for RTD.

“Any additional insight, perspective, attention that could be given to RTD and transit in general, I think could be helpful,” Goetz said.

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