The Regional Transportation District approved a new system optimization plan this week, paving the way for expanded transit access for many metro communities but cutting Broomfield routes.
The plan will guide service development through 2027 and will increase service by 17%, according to RTD officials, a return to 85% of pre-pandemic service levels.
But the plan permanently cuts Route 128 through Broomfield, which was previously cut during the pandemic, and eliminates Route 228 service through Interlocken.
Broomfield city and county officials spoke out against the cuts in meetings and in public comments submitted before the plan’s final approval. RTD officials said both routes were underperforming even before the pandemic, with Route 128 averaging 11 riders per hour.
RTD Director Erik Davidson, who represents Broomfield and portions of Boulder and Weld counties, was the only RTD board member to vote no on the plan.
Davidson said while he was glad that the plan will increase transit access overall as well as for people from minority or low-income families, that expansion did not happen universally.
“We do have areas that are losing access to service, including people who have moved to an area or lived in an area for quite some time and had access to routes years ago — in some cases several routes — that, as a result of the SOP, will no longer have any access to transit,” he said.
His vote represents a request to the board and agency staff to engage in the “2,300-square-mile problem” facing RTD, Davidson said.
“By optimizing our resources, both in finances and people power across the area, we’ve really focused on areas of high density and really focused on commuter routes, and there are folks who are caught in the sprawl,” he said.
In a statement Thursday, Broomfield Mayor Guyleen Castriotta said Broomfield is subsidizing routes for other communities while it continues to see cuts.
“The SOP does not ‘optimize’ resources in District I,” Castriotta said. “...People that need access to affordable transportation live in all parts of the district and may not have a choice or the means to move to where they can have better access to affordable transportation.”
Community Solutions Executive Director Audrey DeBarros said while the organization appreciated the moves to restore services to the Flatiron Flyer route, “We remain concerned about the RTD’s commitment only to restore service to the City & County of Broomfield at 52% of pre-pandemic levels, especially for those who are transit dependent.”
During Tuesday’s meeting, RTD board members noted that the system optimization plan was a “living document” and that if circumstances change, services may also change based on board approval.