CCDC Interviewed Nine 2016 RTD Candidates, Their Answers

Submitted by Jose Torres-Vega on October 10, 2016 - 5:52pm

 

CCDC Interviewed Nine 2016 RTD Candidates

Their Answers

 


The Colorado Cross Disability Coalition (CCDC) advocates for Social Justice for people with all types of disabilities.  Established in 1990, to address the inadequacies of transit, CCDC continues to address transit issues as one of its highest priorities to insure all people with disabilities have equal access to housing, education, health care and services.


RTD has elections in 8 districts in 2016.  These include Districts


A          Candidates       Regan Byrd, Kate Williams, Mike Cerbo, Aaron Goldhammer


D          Candidates       Jeffrey Allen Walker


E          Candidates       Claudia Folska, Maria J. Fay


F          Candidates       Bob Broom


G          Candidates       Ken Mihalik


H          Candidates       Doug Tisdale


I           Candidates       Judy Lubow, Veronique Marie Ballamy


M          Candidates       Dave Ruchman, Natalie Menten


To find out what district you are in sign on to

http://www3.rtd-denver.com/elbert/BoardOffice/boardDistrictMap.cfm


RTD is governed by a 15-member, publicly elected Board of Directors. Directors are elected to a four-year term and represent a specific district. Elections are staggered so that eight seats are open in one general election, seven in the next.


To ensure that the public has as much information possible about each candidate to make an informed decision on voting, CCDC has asked each candidate 5 questions.  The results of the questionnaire are below.

 

 

 

Accessible transportation is always an important topic for disability community, CCDC's Jaime Lewis interviewed nine 2016 RTD Board Candidates; here are their answers:

 

Claudia Folska:

 

1. The ratio of ridership using busses versus light rail/commuter rail is 5 to 1. Considering there is a thirst in the Denver metro region for more rail transit how do you avoid citizens, riding the bus, from paying a disproportion of the cost?

 

That is an excellent question.  RTD did a year- long study on this issue which included about 37 community meetings.  We recognized that a fair (fare) structure is important.  Currently rail and bus passengers pay the same rate.  I am very excited that we implemented a day pass that helps people travel all day long for one rate. We continue to build on the FasTracks as approved by voters in 2004. 

 

 

2. Considering we all pay sales tax (a major portion of income for RTD), do you feel everyone should have access to transit whether they can afford it or not?

 

For decades, RTD has worked with social services and over 200 non-profits to provide relief for more than 1 million transit passengers specifically low income passengers.  Last year the Board of Directors approved 6 million dollars to increase low income fares.

 

 

3. RTD was established by a legislative act but many feel RTD is accountable to no one.  Who do you think RTD is accountable to and what steps will you take to ensure RTD is transparent?

    

In 1969 RTD was established with an appointed board by the legislation In 1981the electorate began voting for RTD Board members. We are responsible to the legislature and 3 million citizens within the RTD district.  We are only one of only 3 districts in the country with an elected board.  This provides voters with the opportunity to vote for candidates that they feel will represent their district

We report to the TLRC.  RTD continues to audit ourselves to insure tax payers money is being spent wisely.   We are also responsible to respond to state audits when requested.  The board is committed to be as transparent as possible. For example we are considering to provide live streaming at our meetings so that more people can observe our work and to be informed on what’s happening within the transit the region We do however have meetings that deal with personnel matters and utilize our executive session privalages in these cases, however rare.

 

4. The Americans with Disabilities Act provides minimum standards for transit use. Considering technology and new designs are improving accessibility far and beyond what the writers of the ADA knew 25 years ago, how do you measure accessibility whether economic or physical in the 21st century?

 

Denver has a rich history in activism and in 1978 the disability community brought accessibility to the fore front.  RTD responded positively and has made great strides in insuring that the transit system is accessible to all.  We work closely with disability groups to insure that we meet the needs of the disability community.  We have developed several programs including access-a-cab which is rarely seen in other parts of the country.  Along with Access-A Ride and Call N Ride we try to give customers as many options as possible.  I am committed to ensure that board is acutely aware of the needs of the disability community.  

 

5. If elected, what will be your main goal as an RTD Director?

 

One of my goals is to finish FasTracks and finish building out the remaining corridors by 2020, which is perfect vision.  Another goal is to ensure the ongoing improvement of maintenance and operations.  This includes purchase of new equipment to meet the needs of our customers.  

 

6. What other organizations will you confer with to get good information for decision making?

 

I reach out to a plethora of community agencies, including DRMAC, DRCOG, City of Aurora, Arapahoe County, City and County of Denver, Boulder,  and  in particular Centennial and Greenwood Village.  In addition I gather information and concerns from National Federation of the Blind, Economic Development Organizations, CCB, CCDC, Access Board in Washington D.C.,  Mile High Connects and Transportation Research Board.

 
 
Dave Ruchman:
 
1. The ratio of ridership using busses versus light rail/commuter rail is 5 to 1. Considering there is a thirst in the Denver metro region for more rail transit how do you avoid citizens, riding the bus, from paying a disproportion of the cost?
 
More rail will only come with an additional tax to provide more rail.  If the board and public come to want more rail, there will have to be another ballot initiative like FasTracks to provide for NexTracks.  Rail will not come from the 6/10 of a cent sales tax that currently provides for all non-rail RTD operations.  Revenue recently has been flat, and, with the near completion of FasTracks, RTD will be moving into a operation and maintenance mode rather than continue expansion.
 
 
2. Considering we all pay sales tax (a major portion of income for RTD), do you feel everyone should have access to transit whether they can afford it or not?
 
Access to affordable transportation is a critical part of a healthy community.  As a part of my work in the community over the past couple decades and particularly with the Affordable Fares Task Force and the Jefferson County Local Coordinating Council for transportation, I have worked to obtain and ensure access for everyone to affordable and appropriate transportation.  I will continue that if I am elected to the board.__  With the possible opening up of new opportunities through creative private public partnerships and new applications for technology, more multi modal options for access may also emerge.
 
 
3. RTD was established by a legislative act but many feel RTD is accountable to no one.  Who do you think RTD is accountable to and what steps will you take to ensure RTD is transparent?
 
RTD is accountable to the public.  The RTD board of 15 are the stewards of public taxpayer money, and half the board is accountable each two years to the public in elections.  That’s the point of elections:  to demand accountability of public elected officials.  That’s why the CCDC is circulating this questionnaire before the election and not after it.  The RTD board is also partly responsible to the legislature.
 
Board members and candidates for the board have a responsibility to respond to concerns from the public.  As a public entity, RTD and the board and staff have an obligation to be transparent to the public and, as the agency responsible for providing mass transportation to the region, it also needs to be able to conduct business consistent with recognized lawful business practices.  This is a delicate balance.  In order to maintain trust with all parties, dissemination of information at appropriate times in the proper manner is essential.  When this trust is violated either through withholding of information or inappropriate release of information, trust is lost and parties become reluctant to be candid with the agency.
 
 
4. The Americans with Disabilities Act provides minimum standards for transit use. Considering technology and new designs are improving accessibility far and beyond what the writers of the ADA knew 25 years ago, how do you measure accessibility whether economic or physical in the 21st century?
 
I would start by using the measurements for accessibility used by RTD itself.  I am not familiar with those measurements, or how the agency measures, or even if the agency measures accessibility.  I would like to learn here.  What is the measurement that the CCDC uses, when did it adopt the measurement and why?
 
 
5. If elected, what will be your main goal as an RTD Director?
 
I do not have a main goal but if I had to choose one, it would probably be to make the system more rider-friendly across the board.  I would see that as an appropriate catch-up mission after years of agency focus on FasTracks. 
 
 
6. What other organizations will you confer with to get good information for decision making?
 
I will  turn to a number of advisers in various fields related to public transportation, some of whom I’ve known for 20 years.  In addition, I would turn to the community leaders of Lakewood, Wheat Ridge, and Golden, the three communities I hope to represent at the RTD board.  I would also turn to figures from organizations with which I’m active such as the Affordable Fares Task Force and the Jefferson County Local Coordinating Council.  As a steward for a regional agency, I would also seek out and listen to thoughtful voices throughout the region; wisdom does not reside solely within central Jefferson County.


Judy Lubow:

1.         The ratio of ridership using busses versus light rail/commuter rail is 5 to 1. Considering there is a thirst in the Denver metro region for more rail transit how do you avoid citizens, riding the bus, from paying a disproportion of the cost? 

All transit is subsidized, and there is never enough money to pay for all the service that our transit riders need.  So, there is always a balancing act in transit budgets, balancing the differing needs of the differing constituents. This applies now to the needs of the new rail ridership  as compared to those of the bus riders. The FasTracks service is a new program, and needs a  lot of start-up attention and money, but that will change as time goes on.  At the same time, RTD has a commitment  to not reducing bus service, so that commitment is a necessary counter-balance to the necessary attention to the new rail service.

 

2.         Considering we all pay sales tax (a major portion of income for RTD), do you feel everyone should have access to transit whether they can afford it or not? 

My personal preference as a private individual would be that everyone should have access to transit.  However, as an RTD director, one has a fiduciary responsibility to ensure the survival of the agency.  RTD cannot legally operate in the red, and must be solvent.  Therefore, pricing policy for tickets must be fiscally sustainable.  That being said, I have vigorously supported the work of the Affordable Fares Task Force, which is attempting to create a low income pass or other means by which low income riders would have greater access to transit.

 

3.         RTD was established by a legislative act but many feel RTD is accountable to no one.  Who do you think RTD is accountable to and what steps will you take to ensure RTD is transparent?

I believe RTD is accountable to the Colorado legislature, because they have the right to conduct audits of RTD's actions.  It is true however, that RTD is not accountable to the governor, as other administrative entities are.  RTD is also accountable to the voters, since the voters elect the 15 directors who sit on the RTD board.  If the voters are unhappy with the way RTD is running, they can choose different directors.

To ensure transparency, I have initiated meetings between RTD staff and constituents or community officials, to work out differences and to open up RTD activities to public scrutiny.  There has been positive feedback about these meetings.

 

4.         Americans with Disabilities Act provides minimum standards for transit use. Considering technology and new designs are improving accessibility far and beyond what the writers of the ADA knew 25 years ago, how do you measure accessibility whether economic or physical in the 21st century? 

In terms of folks with disabilities, I believe accessibility means the ability to use transit taking into account and working with the extra needs caused by the disabilities.  This has to be a work in progress, as new technology to assist with disabilities is always changing. 

 

5.         If elected, what will be your main goal as an RTD Director?

Coming from the Northwest region of the RTD area, which was promised rail under the 2004 FasTracks vote but has yet to receive it, I have always stated that my main goal is to work to get our area its promised rail.  In addition, our area has other transit needs, such as more robust bus service, which I would also work for.

 

6.         What other organizations will you confer with to get good information for decision making?

There are transportation management organizations, such as US 36 Commuting Solutions and North Area Transportation Alliance, which provide very important information for RTD directors.  I also do and will confer with transportation staff of local jurisdictions, local chambers of commerce, the affordable fares task force that works with RTD to improve access to transit for low income riders, and other special interest organizations that can provide useful information on their specific transit issues.


Kate Williams:
 

1.         The ratio of ridership using busses versus light rail/commuter rail is 5 to 1. Considering there is a thirst in the Denver metro region for more rail transit how do you avoid citizens, riding the bus, from paying a disproportion of the cost?

Our rail system is pre-planned and at present there are limited plans beyond the ongoing FASTRACKS structure.  The proportion of cost is directly related to usage.  Bus ridership is 83% of use and pay 83% of the income, I believe.  When elected to the board, I will research this question further and if in fact there is an imbalance I will move toward more equitable fares.

 

2.         Considering we all pay sales tax (a major portion of income for RTD), do you feel everyone should have access to transit whether they can afford it or not?

I would like to see all discounted fares and passes be income based, a system which is working in other parts of the country and which is currently being investigated by several local transit groups.  We must still have immediate purchase available for those who are one time or short term regular riders.


3.         RTD was established by a legislative act but many feel RTD is accountable to no one.  Who do you think RTD is accountable to and what steps will you take to ensure RTD is transparent?

I believe RTD is accountable to its Board of Directors and its users as a whole which is the main reason I want to be on the BOD.

 

4.         The Americans with Disabilities Act provides minimum standards for transit use. Considering technology and new designs are improving accessibility far and beyond what the writers of the ADA knew 25 years ago, how do you measure accessibility whether economic or physical in the 21st century?

Accessibility must include service area, price structure, physical accommodation, operator education and hours of operation to make Denver’s public transit system the best in the country and to encourage growth both physical and financial.

 

5.         If elected, what will be your main goal as an RTD Director?

My main goal is to make RTD the best option for all Denver residents; to reduce vehicular traffic, to increase ridership, to improve service areas and schedules, especially as those pertain to those who are transit dependent.

 

7.         What other organizations will you confer with to get good information for decision making?

CCDC, Mile High Connects, DRCOG, DRMAC, Area Agency on Aging, DPS, all of the regional governmental agencies that I know and work with now.



Kenneth Mahalik:


1.         The ratio of ridership using busses versus light rail/commuter rail is 5 to 1. Considering there is a thirst in the Denver metro region for more rail transit how do you avoid citizens, riding the bus, from paying a disproportion of the cost?


The funding, at least from sales taxes, is already segregated, a legislative requirement, between core operations (.06%) and FasTracks (.04%). Whether or not fares from bus riders are transferred to rail is something I will look into


 


2.         Considering we all pay sales tax (a major portion of income for RTD), do you feel everyone should have access to transit whether they can afford it or not?


I’m not sure entirely what the question is asking. Is the question whether or not individual fares should exist because metro residents already pay sales tax? As it sits currently, the sales tax receipts are insufficient to cover the entire budget.


The fares operate to both generate revenue (pay for use of the service) and ensure capacity.


 


3.         RTD was established by a legislative act but many feel RTD is accountable to no one. Who do you think RTD is accountable to and what steps will you take to ensure RTD is transparent?


I share the sentiment and this was a primary motivation for me to get on the ballot. It is my understanding that RTD is just one of three public transportation boards in America that is elected. In that respect, it’s directly accountable to voters. And for what it is worth, it is no less accountable than any other elected government body. While I think they currently do a good job with reporting and transparency, I think it’s something that can always be improved.


 


4.         The Americans with Disabilities Act provides minimum standards for transit use. Considering technology and new designs are improving accessibility far and beyond what the writers of the ADA knew 25 years ago, how do you measure accessibility whether economic or physical in the 21st century?


Innovation thankfully, for the most part, stays out ahead of regulation. New competing technologies like autonomous vehicles and the growing popularity of vehicle sharing, etc will continue to provide options and improve affordability and accessibility for all users.


 


5.         If elected, what will be your main goal as an RTD Director?


My primary goal is that tax payers are well informed of the costs, liabilities, and performance of both current and future projects/operations.  There is a tendency to under project costs and over estimate results.


 


6.         What other organizations will you confer with to get good information for decision making?


 


One in particular sources I like for transit issue analysis is the Reason Foundation.




Maria J. Fay:


1.      The ratio of ridership using busses versus light rail/commuter rail is 5 to 1. Considering there is a thirst in the Denver metro region for more rail transit how do you avoid citizens, riding the bus, from paying a disproportion of the cost?


The way RTD has set up routes these days; you are forced to use a combo of buses and trains to get places in a timely manner.  We have noticed this every time we have to go to the other side of the county / western side of town.  The real issue here is making sure everyone is paying their fair share of the cost to ride RTD.  We have noticed that value passes save over a month each year.  ECO passes can be as low as $45 for a regional pass for someone who is lucky to work for Denver while the rest of us are paying $171 / 85.  This makes no sense and is very unfair to low income riders / working families / etc.  The other issue is the airport passes which for some odd reason have people paying one way as if most of them don’t need to come home at night.  If RTD is going to have all the other passes priced for people to use at least 20 days; the airport pass should be raised to reflect this including for airport employees (though if you are making $10 an hour and working at DIA; raising the pass is going to make it hard for you to afford / your company to afford it).


 


2.     Considering we all pay sales tax (a major portion of income for RTD), do you feel everyone should have access to transit whether they can afford it or not? 


Not sure how to answer this.  Sales taxes are one source of revenue for RTD.  Fares are another.  Sales taxes however effect low income more than higher income.  The way we deal with this is to make all fares fair and affordable.


 


3.     RTD was established by a legislative act but many feel RTD is accountable to no one.  Who do you think RTD is accountable to and what steps will you take to ensure RTD is transparent?


RTD is an elected board so they are accountable to the voters in each district.  The board is who is responsible to make sure RTD is as transparent as possible.  A lot of us running this year noticed how policy questions that some of us had were not answered at a candidate meeting at RTD and its also not available on the RTD website.  That is a huge problem.


 


4.     The Americans with Disabilities Act provides minimum standards for transit use. Considering technology and new designs are improving accessibility far and beyond what the writers of the ADA knew 25 years ago, how do you measure accessibility whether economic or physical in the 21st century?


This means making sure people who have mobility difficulties can get places so everywhere anyone else can get to via RTD should be available to all._It should also be affordable for people who need to use access a ride. 


 


5.     If elected, what will be your main goal as an RTD Director?


Keeping RTD working for those who have no other choice and at a cost that these same people can afford.  There is a lot of low to middle income families in district E who are having a lot of problems with the large fare increase we all got in January while at the same time having to deal with service cuts.


 


6.      What other organizations will you confer with to get good information for decision making?


We will talk and listen to anyone who wants to talk to us. 


 


 


Mile Cerbo:


1.         The ratio of ridership using busses versus light rail/commuter rail is 5 to 1. Considering there is a thirst in the Denver metro region for more rail transit how do you avoid citizens, riding the bus, from paying a disproportion of the cost?


I would work to increase investments in our bus services to prevent bus riders from paying a disproportionate amount of RTD’s costs.


Completing of a large portion of the FastTracks project has been a primary focus for RTD for the past decade and we are now transitioning into a new era. During this transition from buildout to operations, RTD will focus on reliability, convenience, cost-effectiveness and the customer experience. Although demand for rail is high, bus services are able to reach deeper into the region and fill gaps in the system.


Investments into new technology and perhaps smaller, more nimble vehicles will likely be required to meet customer’s needs. Technology will play a key role in moving people around efficiently, and will help RTD bus services to become more reliable, convenient and cost-effective.


We must continue to be a forward thinking agency and adapt to new technologies. If we do not, we are falling behind.


 


2.         Considering we all pay sales tax (a major portion of income for RTD), do you feel everyone should have access to transit whether they can afford it or not?


In my utopia, transit would be free for all, but it is not realistic for RTD to provide free transit to everyone.


The high cost of our system prevents many from utilizing RTD’s services. When fares increased at the beginning of 2016, RTD made an error by not including a fare structure for low-income passengers. It is clear that current fare structure has disproportionately impacted those who rely on transit the most. Also, I’ve spoken to many people who can easily afford transit, but they choose to drive because it is more economical and convenient for them. Affordable fares for transit users will be vital to increasing ridership and a thriving system.


As a board member, I will work to provide fare relief for those in need, perhaps in the form of an income based pass. I will also work to ensure that fares are affordable in the decades to come.


 


3.         RTD was established by a legislative act but many feel RTD is accountable to no one.  Who do you think RTD is accountable to and what steps will you take to ensure RTD is transparent?


Ultimately, RTD is accountable to its customers. We are a world class transit agency with a long history and must provide an excellent customer experience. RTD is also accountable to the voters of the district through the elected board of directors, on which I hope to serve.


RTD has many policies in place to ensure transparency, but a lack of communication with the communities it serves leaves many feeling that RTD is accountable to no one. To increase transparency, we would seek to have a robust community outreach program and reconnect RTD with the communities it serves.


With an operating budget of over $600 million, transparency is necessary to ensure financial responsibility and to move RTD forward. When we combine concerns over RTD’s fare structure with the fact that financing is not in place to complete remaining portions of the FasTracks system, RTD must be more transparent than ever to ensure the public is educated on the challenges RTD faces and the solutions we will find to enable a thriving transit agency for the decades to come.


 


4.         The Americans with Disabilities Act provides minimum standards for transit use. Considering technology and new designs are improving accessibility far and beyond what the writers of the ADA knew 25 years ago, how do you measure accessibility whether economic or physical in the 21st century?


Compliance with the ADA is a pillar of RTD’s service and will continue to be, but economic and physical accessibility has evolved with advancements in new technology and engineering designs. Having a system that is accessible to all people, within a reasonable distance and for a reasonable fare is essential to increasing ridership and exceeding ADA standards.


To increase ridership and deliver quality service, we must acknowledge the role technology will play in providing accessible service in the future. Maintaining our fixed transit routes and utilizing technology to increase our flexible transit options will help everyone access transit and be mobile throughout Denver. Maintaining ADA accessible rides, and specifically the Access-a Ride program, is essential along with keeping fares reasonable.


Accessible facilities and affordable fares are vital to increasing ridership and ensuring we have a thriving transit system.


 


5.         If elected, what will be your main goal as an RTD Director?


If elected, increasing ridership will be our top priority because a thriving transit system is the most effective way we can battle congestion, improve air quality and keep our economy strong. Increasing ridership will require partnerships focused on addressing the affordability of our system, improving the rider experience and adapting to advancements in transportation technology.


As congestion increases, our air quality and quality of life decreases. We have been battling Denver’s brown cloud for decades and we recently ranked the 8th worst ozone polluter in the nation. How we move people in the decades to come will be crucial to the economic vitality of our region. By increasing RTD’s ridership base we can battle congestion along our primary transit corridors, improve our health and environment, and maintain our economic competitiveness.


However, attracting more riders will be no small task. For many, the cost of service is too expensive; for others, the barriers to accessing transit are too great; and for most, the convenience of driving is too strong. By partnering with the City and County of Denver, the Colorado Department of Transportation, non-profits, Transportation Management Associations and private industry we can increase ridership.


The high cost of our system prevents many from utilizing RTD’s services. Affordable fares for transit users will improve ridership.


The rider experience is more than a bus or rail ride; it encompasses how transit intersects with our lives. Improving the rider experience will require building connections to provide convenient access to RTD stops and stations, as well as adapting to new technologies that are rapidly changing how people move around our city.


As more people ride, the benefits to our region multiply. With strong leadership, a customer-focused agency, and a focus on continuous improvement, RTD will increase ridership and remain a model transit agency that other cities will follow and aim to emulate.


 


6.         What other organizations will you confer with to get good information for decision making?


There are many agencies and organizations, including RTDs internal staff, which I would confer with when considering the important decisions that will face the RTD board.


Non-profit agencies such as Mile Hi Connects and the Transit Alliance, are great resources and instrumental in engaging with RTD stakeholders and identifying ways we can improve our transit system. With a better understanding of the RTD customer, we can work to provide more convenient service.


I would stay in touch with the Cross Disability Coalition to discuss what people in the disabled community want and need from our agency, as well as talk to non-profit stakeholder groups.  Walk Denver and Bike Denver would be excellent resources to consult with regarding first and final mile connections and identifying innovative funding strategies to achieve our collective goals.


As affordable housing and transit oriented development occurs near rail stations, I would likely confer with the City of Denver, Denver Housing Authority, property owners and adjacent neighborhood associations and discuss the development plans.


 


Finally, we must not be afraid to look to transit agencies from other cities, countries and cultures for ideas on how we can improve the rider experience and efficiently move more people. 


 


Regan Byrd:


1.         The ratio of ridership using busses versus light rail/commuter rail is 5 to 1. Considering there is a thirst in the Denver metro region for more rail transit how do you avoid citizens, riding the bus, from paying a disproportion of the cost?


 


Given that a majority of persons using the bus make $35,000 per year or under, and 59% of bus riders are dependent on bus transit, making sure the interests of bus riders are met and they are treated equitably by RTD is a major priority of mine, and should be of the entire organization. Light Rail commuters currently receive free benefits from RTD, such as free parking at Park-N-Ride stations. One method to prevent bus riders from paying disproportionate costs is to have commuters pay a small parking fee when parking at Park-N-Ride locations. Additional fees might also be charged during special events, or for specialized bus routes also used by commuters, such as the BroncosRide.


 


 


2.         Considering we all pay sales tax (a major portion of income for RTD), do you feel everyone should have access to transit whether they can afford it or not?


 


One of the central tenets of my platform, and I would say the most important, is the issue of affordability regarding RTD fares. RTD not only needs to implement an income-based pass for low-income riders, but also needs to seriously consider making RTD a free service for all service area residents. Income from fares only makes up 14% of RTD’s overall income, meaning its effect on the budget can be mitigated by increasing income in other areas. In contrast, income from sales and use tax, which is already regressive and places an undue burden on those with less income, makes up nearly 53% of RTD’s income as of the 2016 budget. Transit is an essential service connecting people to work, school, grocery stores, daycare, etc, and RTD moving towards a free access model to support the community would make sense from a budgetary, service, and equity perspective.


 


 


3.         RTD was established by a legislative act but many feel RTD is accountable to no one.  Who do you think RTD is accountable to and what steps will you take to ensure RTD is transparent?


 


RTD is accountable to the riders first, and more broadly, the taxpayers and residents of CO who fund its operations through sales and use tax. RTD seems to have forgotten that it is governed by an elected board of directors who represent riders and the RTD service area constituencies that elected them. RTD needs to operate with that perspective in mind first. To ensure RTD transparency, also a major focus of my campaign under “accountability,” I would like to implement the following: monthly community meetings with RTD board members within the community’s districts, yearly budget summaries provided to the public in an easy to understand format (unlike the 259 page 2016 Budget document), integrated community feedback regarding major RTD decisions, including having metrics around the integration of feedback, and reporting on how feedback has been integrated back to the communities, bi-annual customer service surveys, and individual customer service follow-up on complaints from community members. RTD serves the public and must be transparent to the public in every effort.


 


 


4.         The Americans with Disabilities Act provides minimum standards for transit use. Considering technology and new designs are improving accessibility far and beyond what the writers of the ADA knew 25 years ago, how do you measure accessibility whether economic or physical in the 21st century?


 


In my view, economic accessibility encompasses cost of services, ease of payment, etc, while physical accessibility encompasses equal access to services and ease of utilizing services when they are present. Both are essential to defining true accessibility and need to be a top priority for RTD, as I believe it is failing in these key areas. Accessibility goes beyond any one measurement in today’s age. It comes down to whether communities themselves feel a service is accessible, and what measures are being taken to ensure a service remains accessible. RTD has to be in communication with its riders to know when a service is falling below the needs of the community, and is no longer accessible. You can only do that through proactive community engagement and conversations, and those are always the best measurement.


 


 


5.         If elected, what will be your main goal as an RTD Director?


 


My main goal will be to challenge and change the culture of RTD, with a focus on increasing affordability, accountability, and community investment. We need RTD to radically re-think who it is as an organization and who it is serving. The riders of RTD must come first. Affordability and equal access must be a top priority in the coming years, and especially as cost of living and congestion continue to increase in the Denver Metro Area. Making these issues a top priority means re-thinking how RTD chooses its priorities and how it measures success. I am running to represent riders and my community, and plan to bring that perspective to RTD.


 


 


6.         What other organizations will you confer with to get good information for decision making?


 


Non-profit organizations such as 9to5, Colorado People’s Alliance, Mile High Connects, and Colorado Cross-Disability Coalition, are all essential to understanding how RTD is serving directly affected communities. Organizations like the Small Business Majority are also important for understanding how RTD is meeting the needs of businesses who are invested in helping their employees get to their jobs, and how RTD pays a role in Colorado’s economic growth. Good decision making happens when RTD considers the needs of the community, and seeks out those voices, in conjunction with having strong community oriented priorities and goals.


 


Thank you for this opportunity. Please email me with any additional questions or concerns!


Véronique bellamy:


1. The ratio of ridership using busses versus light rail/commuter rail is 5 to 1. Considering there is a thirst in the Denver metro region for more rail transit how do you avoid citizens, riding the bus, from paying a disproportion of the cost?

The tragic fact is that with public private partnerships, service quality and reliability goes down. With this, public confidence in the system goes down reducing ridership and resulting in more reliance on fares and subsidies.

When I get into office, I plan to work hard to accelerate the payoff of our existing P3 obligations by way of a gas tax and get us control of our rail back. I also intend to work to end transit privatization, reducing our overhead cost, keeping more of our fare and subsidy money here instead of shipping it to companies in Scotland and France and allowing us more control of our transit network.

Furthermore, I intend to push for more intelligent spending of RTD’s money. RTD could be doing more with its human and real assets, yet time after time, we see missed opportunities.

 

2.  Considering we all pay sales tax (a major portion of income for RTD), do you feel everyone should have access to transit whether they can afford it or not?

Yes. I believe that transit should always be affordable and we need to work to make it so. A problem that we have is that ridership is so low, we rely so much on taxes to make the transit system work.

To be honest though, I haven’t thought about this issue as it relates to this specific question. I have talked about how we can reduce reliance on tax money and reduce fares by increasing quantity and quality of service, as well as public confidence in RTD.

However, now that I think about this question in this specific way, I think that an appropriate strategy would be to create a means by which the County Departments of Health and Human Services can provide a pass or tickets for people who cannot afford them. This would be more convenient, as it could use the same means test and online application system (Colorado PEAK) that other programs administered through HHS use. They could also be useful in establishing a passenger’s disabled status using information they already have. This would allow more convenient locations for people to get disability fare cards.

 

3.  RTD was established by a legislative act but many feel RTD is accountable to no one.  Who do you think RTD is accountable to and what steps will you take to ensure RTD is transparent?

I can understand the sentiment. The attitudes of the current director and previous director of my district (both of whom I’m running against) don’t lend themselves to this. With Lee Kemp’s involvement with Motor Coach Industries in a blatant conflict of interest and Judy Lubow’s misrepresentation of her own position, it is easy for people to disengage. However, I believe we should take a different approach vis-à-vis transparency.

I firmly believe that RTD needs to do a lot more work to be transparent to the people. If I am elected, I plan to revive Director Bagley’s measure to video record the public meetings of RTD. I also plan to work to have RTD go above and beyond CORA to offer a programmatic API with our data already loaded in. This way, requests for information can take less time and be delivered rapidly. I also believe public meetings of RTD need to alternate to different locations if your District spans a lot of territory. In my District, this is the case. While meetings at the Longmont Senior Centre may be convenient for me, they would not be convenient for a disabled person in Broomfield or Lafayette.

Prosecuting someone like Lee Kemp would be difficult. Yes, it is a crime but with issues such as nepotism plaguing RTD, this would be hard to do with Board action. Instead, I must appeal to the legislature to create a department in the Secretary of State’s office (as they are responsible for receiving reports of conflicts of interest) to investigate these conflicts.


4. The Americans with Disabilities Act provides minimum standards for transit use. Considering technology and new designs are improving accessibility far and beyond what the writers of the ADA knew 25 years ago, how do you measure accessibility whether economic or physical in the 21st century?

Well, we need to consider whether something is truly accessible based on practicality. Yet, RTD continues to do things that defy belief when it comes to accessibility. For example, the use of these large coaches as the fleet for their faux-BRT service, the Flatiron Flyer. One thing in the BRT standard that is a key point for accessibility is at-grade boarding. This means no ramp needs to be deployed and the driver doesn’t need to leave the cabin to board the passenger.

By ignoring this requirement in the BRT standard and continuing to pretend like the Flatiron Flyer, in its current implementation, is a BRT is a slap in the face to disabled passengers. It shows them that we are not going to do better. I think this is the wrong attitude to take and has the effect of alienating more passengers.

Furthermore, I think the placement of schedules at transit shelters can be too high for a disabled passenger to be able to read it. Additionally, with the current design of RTD’s buses, it creates a conflict between parents with strollers and elderly/disabled passengers. I believe that we need to take a look at the design of our transit network to see how we can improve our service for disabled passengers.

All buses that lack at-grade boarding should be phased out. I believe that the reason we are being denied real BRT is due to Lee Kemp’s remaining influence on the Board.


5.  If elected, what will be your main goal as an RTD Director?

If I had to pick one thing, it would be to end the public private partnerships. I see the privatization of our transit network as the largest threat to our transit network. The evidence consistently proves everything I’ve been saying. P3s haven’t worked in London, Auckland, Melbourne or Vancouver. With the many outages on the A-line, we are seeing the impact of P3s here as well.

Furthermore, paying off our P3 obligations faster will allow us to look to building out the remainder of FasTracks since so much of our FasTracks money is mired in these P3s.


6.  What other organizations will you confer with to get good information for decision making?

I would say that we need to confer with plenty of other organizations. For disability issues, I plan to work with local organizations such as the ACL of Boulder County, the Centre for Persons With Disabilities, Mental Health Partners and the Autism Society of Boulder County. For labour issues, I want to work closely with the Amalgamated Transit Union, as we need to improve how RTD relates to its drivers given the serious problems with turnover. I also plan to work with local organizations that help the needy such as the Our Centre in Longmont and Sister Carmen’s in Lafayette.

 


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