Q&A with Regan Byrd, candidate for RTD Board of Directors, District H

Posted

Residence: Centennial

Campaign website: www.regan4rtd.com

What makes you the best choice for this office?

I have been a routine user of RTD for over 15 years and have relied on this system for transportation to work, home, gatherings, grocery stores, the doctor's office (and so on). I have seen RTD cut itself into oblivion over the past decade and fail to take its obligation as a critical service seriously. Transit is the circulatory system of a community; it gets people and resources where they need to go. As an equity consultant with an academic background in public policy and community organizing, I understand how to work with taxpayers, riders and RTD staff to move RTD forward.

If you're elected, what single issue will be at the top of your agenda?

The useability/utility of the RTD system for both riders and operators will be my top concern during my term. RTD has already faced major budgetary concerns the past several years, and the people who end up suffering the most from the board of directors' myopic decision making are riders and bus/train operators. RTD is already discussing operator furloughs, despite current operator shortages, and additional service cuts, instead of thinking creatively about both its revenue and other areas of excess spending. People need a functioning transit system, and RTD needs to work hard and fight for its core constituency.

If you're elected, what must you accomplish in order for you to consider your term a success?

I will not consider my term a success unless the community I am representing — District H residents, RTD riders and RTD operators — considers my term a success. I am not running for office because I desire more power or to build my political resume. I am because I care about transit and the community RTD serves. I want to make sure that Denver metro residents have access to a reliable, functioning transit system that they can rely on as a city service during unprecedented economic and infrastructural change and that the health, safety and financial security of our operators are protected.

Given the light rail R Line's low ridership compared to other RTD light rail routes, what, if anything, should be done about the R Line?

The R Line is only the most recent rail line in RTD's history to suffer from low ridership, and there are many factors involved in why this keeps happening. The R line was showing promise in terms of ridership increases before the pandemic, and RTD should not be so drastic to cut a line that has only been in operation for three years. RTD once again needs to stop thinking about cuts and start thinking about how to meet ridership needs and demands in the system as a whole. The R line should not be cut.

In light of the pandemic's effect on tax revenue, how will you work to address RTD's budget shortage?

I believe RTD needs to totally rethink its revenue structure. RTD already receives much of its revenue from a 1% sales tax, and I think exploring a small increase would make sense. Colorado continues to experience record-breaking marijuana sales that will likely be resistant to a downturn in the pandemic, so this seems a good place to explore funding essential services. RTD also needs to consider how to increase ticket sales and usage, rather than just expense reduction. Tickets are too expensive and users are often not able to get where they want to go. We need to improve service.

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