Front Range Community College’s bus and light rail service, known as the Regional Transportation District, or RTD, is cost effective, convenient and environmentally friendly.
Three bus routes provide regular service to the FRCC Westminster Campus: 31, 51 and 112. The primary stop, which is serviced by 31 and 51, is located campus’s parking lot, between the entrance to College Hill Library and the college’s main entrance. There is a sign as well as a small, covered waiting area.
Route 112 services the other two stops along 112th Avenue, on both the north and the south of the street.
RTD’s bus service offers three different services with different fares and schedules. Express buses provide regional transportation and cater to regular commuters. These routes have less frequent stops, decreasing transit time, and more buses run during the morning and early evening rush hours.
The regional buses make more frequent stops than express buses, increasing transit time. These buses also serve a larger area: from Denver to Longmont or Denver International Airport (DIA), or from Boulder to Eldora Mountain Resort (ski area). As of Jan. 3, 2016, the regional routes are called the Flatiron Flyer service (FF1, FF2, etc).
The express and regional busses primarily stop at the RTD Stations (formerly called Park n’ Rides), which are located along major ramps on US-36. Stations have lots for people to park their cars and finish their commutes via public transit.
The local buses provide service within communities along the Front Range. These routes have more stops, more frequent pick-ups and drop-offs, and serve smaller areas than the Regional or Express routes.
RTD’s Light Rail service is set-up like a wagon wheel; Denver’s Union Station is the main hub and the lines run out like spokes from the central station. The light rail primarily provides service from downtown Denver to the suburb communities around the city, like Lakewood or Highlands Ranch.
Four new light rail lines will open between April and Dec. of 2016. One of these lines will run to DIA, while another will run toward Arvada. Line B will begin operation this summer, providing rail service from Union Station to Westminster, which could benefit commuters to and from Front Range Community College.
RTD has a great trip planning tool on their website. People can enter their starting and ending locations and the times they want to depart or arrive, and the tool provides step-by-step instructions on how to complete their journey.
In Jan. of 2016, RTD simplified its fare structure. Passengers can pay for transit service with cash upon boarding, pre-paid passes, day use passes, or pre-paid monthly or yearly passes.
The different levels of service have different price structures. Moreover, passengers can purchase pre-paid booklets of 5-10 passes. The pre-paid passes offer a roughly 10 percent discount on the fare. Additionally, passengers can purchase monthly and yearly passes which allow unlimited rides for that time period.
Regional passes qualify passengers to use the entire RTD system; express, local, regional and light-rail, while the local pass only allows boarding of Local busses. Ticket books are available online and in participating King Soopers and Safeway stores along the Front Range.
RTD also offers Transfer passes, which allow passengers to transfer to another bus, within three hours of boarding the initial bus, without paying another fare.
Schools can enroll in the College Pass program, which provides students with access to the entire RTD system for a lower cost than purchasing tickets outright.
Front Range Community College has looked into providing this service and, according to Therese Brown, Campus Vice-President, “Student government has talked about this over the years and have not found enough students interested to even take it to a vote. We have to have students vote if there is going to be a fee collected to pay for the passes.”
If students are interested in the College Pass program they should attend a Student Government Association meeting, which are held on Monday’s at 4pm in the Student Outreach Center, to address the issue.
Many people favor public transit over private to save money on their commutes, but using public transportation also reduces carbon footprints.
According to the American Public Transportation Association (APTA), “A single person, commuting alone by car, who switches a 20-mile round trip commute to existing public transportation, can reduce his or her annual CO2 emissions by 4,800 pounds per year, equal to a 10% reduction in all greenhouse gases produced by a typical two-adult, two-car household. By eliminating one car and taking public transportation instead of driving, a savings of up to 30% of carbon dioxide emissions can be realized.”
In a 2011 NPR Boston WGBH article, 90 percent of vehicles on the road are occupied by only one person: the driver.
Mass transit lowers one’s carbon footprint because the emissions are spread across all the riders on the bus. Buses and trains also reduce one’s carbon footprint by using more energy efficient fuel sources, such as electricity or diesel, which burns 30 percent more efficiently than unleaded gasoline.
According to APTA, 46 percent of American households have no access to public transportation. The Front Range is a large metropolitan area, and a vast majority of this area is served by public transportation. In fact, RTD provides service across a 2,340-mile area.
While public transportation is cost effective and energy efficient, students can also spend their commutes studying instead driving.
Written by Alex Liethen
Photo by Alex Liethen