Defining the route to innovation through partnership
Tonya Anderson and Paul DesRocher from RTD Denver detail the steps the agency has taken to modernise the ways in which riders access services, including how a collaboration with Uber has given customers more ways than ever to plan and pay for trips.
What kind of projects and initiatives is Denver working on to update mass transit for the MaaS age?
Paul DesRocher: The first and foremost project that RTD is leading at the moment is our ‘Reimagine RTD’ planning process. It’s a process that has been initiated similarly in different transit districts throughout the United States. It typically engages districts on the question of how they want to apply their services, either through concentrating services at will, creating the highest possible ridership, or spreading those services throughout the district to primarily achieve a geographic fairness. Transit agencies in the United States are funded mostly through a sales tax that’s paid by district constituents, so there is an expectation that if you’re paying that tax, you will receive services in return.
Uber and Lyft have adjusted their business models because they now see transit collaborations as being beneficial to their bottom line
When it comes to ridership and serving those people, RTD’s most efficient routes tend to be concentrated within our urban area, but the district we serve is quite a bit bigger than just Denver; we actually have 40 municipalities that make up our district. A big proportion of that area is quite suburban and even rural. Even though the people in those areas are paying into our tax district, their land use and urban makeup isn’t always accommodating to transit. We’re roughly six months into this planning process, and it usually takes two years. We’re sifting through a lot of feedback but remain very much focused on getting buy-in from representatives of the municipalities through the district.