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Op-Ed: RTD Is in Crisis, and You Can Make a Difference

Op-Ed: RTD Is in Crisis, and You Can Make a Difference
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When I mention RTD, I usually get one of two responses:  “I don’t use RTD or I use it very infrequently" and “I rely on RTD to get to work.”

You may not care much about the Regional Transportation District, or you may care a great deal. Either way, you pay for that choice. RTD collects a 1 percent sales tax on most purchases. When you buy a new car, make a home improvement, stock your pantry or clothe your family, you are paying RTD.

Consider your circumstances. If you are experiencing a 40 percent, 50 percent or 60 percent loss of income, you will face many decisions of consequence. Painful decisions. An RTD candidate who suggests that service cuts, route changes or employee furloughs are not on the table is irresponsible, and not working for a solution. Unlike the federal government, RTD does not have the authority to print money; RTD must live within a budget, just as we do as individuals.

What are the challenges facing RTD...and its new leadership?

Before COVID-19, RTD was facing falling ridership; ridership may have been impacted by the expanding economy and increasing individual real income. The negative impact of the COVID outbreak has and will continue to reduce the viability of RTD. Business ventures whose profit relied on the stars being perfectly aligned have failed. Government efforts to dampen the hardship are running out of money. Business, state and local government subsidies are doing the same. Loss of revenue is a constraint that must be accounted for by RTD.

Downtown as a destination is devalued by lawlessness and homelessness allowed by radical leadership in the City and County of Denver. Once a jewel of culture, entertainment and enterprise, downtown is now a gauntlet of homeless and disconnected personalities who make Denver their hub of influence and discontent.

The government requirement for social distance has forced a paradigm shift. According to a Chamber of Commerce report, nine out of ten businesses have staffers who work from home. Many of the constituents I have spoken with have declared that they will not be returning to the downtown towers of glass. Denver, as a destination, is further devalued from the need of employees to be housed in a central downtown location.

Fee schedules, mode evaluations between light rail and bus routes, reductions in management staff and represented employees, capital projects and financing of debt are complex challenges facing the next RTD Board of Directors.

Citizens can choose to make a difference with this obscure elected position. In District H, you have three choices. I am the only candidate with a career in transportation and logistics, who has managed a $150 million budget servicing 24 locations across the U.S. I am the only candidate trained in modern methods of management, such as Six Sigma and continuous quality improvement for the benefit of the organization.

It matters who you choose to be faithful to the mission of RTD.

Roger Edwards is a candidate for the RTD board of directors in District H.

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