Denver, CO

Denver's Regional Transportation District Takes a Big Hit Because of Pandemic

Grant Underwood

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Denver, CO – When the COVID-19 pandemic closed down the city and the county of Denver in mid-2020, buses and trains in the Regional Transportation District continued to operate. But, there is only one problem, there are no destinations to go to.

All the public places were empty; buildings were empty, restaurants were closed, employees switched to remote work, and people tried to avoid crowds as much as possible. With no passengers circulating, the Regional Transportation District suffered.

“It’s almost like the worst of all worlds when you think about it in terms of a pandemic and transit,” said Andy Goetz, a professor who specializes in transportation and urban studies from the College of Natural Sciences and Mathematics.

While almost every sector of the economy has felt the pain of the pandemic, few have taken it on their heads like the world's transit agencies. According to the American Public Transit Association, the number of passengers traveling to the United States decreased by nearly 80% in 2020.

For safety reason, some of the bus routes had to be eliminated and prioritized the busiest route to help hospital workers and other essential workers.

Although the corporate world is beginning to come alive with the availability of COVID-19 vaccines, Goetz believes the pain for Regional Transportation District is far from over.

Transit will be forced to face the same pre-pandemic challenges: competing in the comfort of a car and in an environment where people might be more comfortable with remote work.

However, Goetz can see reasons to stay optimistic when he looked at the bigger picture. From an environmental perspective, the pandemic has facilitated some of the changes that transit is expected to make.

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