‘Train to the plane’; A-line celebrates 5 years of service

Local News

DENVER (KDVR) — RTD is celebrating five years of service for the A-line on Tuesday. It hasn’t always been easy for the “Train to the Plane.” 

Since the A-line began service, 30 million riders have used it according to RTD. 

“This is just truly amazing in the sense of being able to get off your plane, take the airport people mover, and get right on the train at the platform,” said Debra Johnson, General Manger and CEO of RTD. “You come right into Denver Union Station where you are in the heart of the city. It’s phenomenal.” 

RTD hopes to showcase how seamless the entire process is for travelers to get from the airport terminal into the central business district of Denver by taking the train.

It costs just $10.50 per traveler to and from the airport on a single day.

“This was a project we marveled at across the globe, recognizing it was a private/public partnership and the first one in public transit space,” said Johnson. “To stand here today and celebrate this event is such an awesome feeling.”

RTD officials said Tuesday the “Train to the Plane” has exceeded expectations. Ridership on the line has grown steadily over its five years of operation. During August 2019, the month with highest ridership, the University of Colorado A Line carried more than 744,000 customers which is about 24,000 per day.

During the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, RTD’s commuter rail services retained 45% of pre-COVID-19 ridership numbers, which is the best in the nation for commuter rail services.

“Once people experience it they will know, this is the way to go,” said Denver Transit Partners’ Doug Allen. “It’s smooth and easy to use, it’s a great way to travel.”

The line opened on April 22, 2016 and quickly fell into trouble. Trains got stuck on the tracks and passengers were forced to use buses when the line went down.  

In 2016, the A-line accounted for only 10% of all RTD riders. By 2019, that number had jumped to 17.5%.

The cost for the A-line has risen dramatically. When the A-line began in 2016, it had an operating cost of roughly $45 million dollars. In 2019,  the last year numbers are available, operating costs had grown to $171 million dollars.

RTD says the A-line’s on-time performance ranks at 98%.

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