RTD Travel Tips

Trip Planning

The RTD website (www.rtd-denver.com, opens a new window) works with Google Maps to help you plan your trip, opens a new window and any transfers. Times listed include scheduled buses and trains, as well as estimates for walking time between stops. If there is more than one way to get to your destination, the trip planner will list several options.

Bus and Light Rail services are intended to be fully accessible to individuals with disabilities. Read about RTD's accessibility features, opens a new window. RTD offers the Access-a-Ride, opens a new window service for riders who are unable to access fixed-route buses and trains.

If you need information about a route or trip and do not have internet access you can call RTD Monday through Friday from 6:00 am to 8:00 pm and weekends and holidays from 9:00 am to 6:00 pm at 303-299-6000. You will be connected to a live person. You can also connect with RTD via social media on Twitter, opens a new window and Facebook, opens a new window.

Buses have a front display (above the windshield) that shows the route number and final stop of the route. If you are familiar with the route, this will help you make sure you are boarding the bus in the correct direction. If you are unfamiliar with the route, you can check the paper or online schedule to see what the last stop is, or you can ask the driver.

All light rail trains have signs on the front and sides to indicate which train it is and the final stop on the line. Light rail trains are labeled with letters instead of numbers. Light rail stations have printed bus and light rail schedules available for passengers to look at. Light rail train drivers are not accessible to passengers needing route information.

When planning your trip, keep in mind that most routes have fewer or no stops on weekends or holidays. It is always a good idea to check schedules before you start your trip in case there have been changes to the regular schedule or there are special events or closures that may impact your travel.

Fares, Discounts and Fare Zones

Fares vary based on the type of transit and number of fare zone boundaries crossed. The chart below from the RTD website will help you figure out the fare you need to pay. The top two rows show the different fare zones and one-way cash and prepaid (MyRide, opens a new window) fares for local, regional and airport travel. The two bottom rows list the different fares and some hints on the best price for a pass or ticket book for you if you are a frequent rider. Please visit the RTD Fares page, opens a new window for the most up-to-date information.

The chart shows full price fares in blue and discounted fares in grey. Special Discount Cards, opens a new window are available for older adults, individuals with disabilities and youth. Fares for older adults (age 65 and up) and individuals with disabilities are discounted at 50% and marked with an asterisk (*). Youth fares (ages 6-19) are discounted at 70% and marked with a double asterisk (**). The eligibility requirements and application forms for these discounted fares are available online. Riders approved for these discounts will be issued a Special Discount Card with their photo on it. Youth may use a valid middle or high school ID or a valid government issued ID in place of the Special Discount Card.

NEW SUMMER 2019: The RTD LiVE, opens a new window program offers a 40% fare discount for riders ages 20-64 whose household incomes are at or below 185% of the Federal Poverty Index. To participate in the RTD LiVE program, riders need to sign up through Colorado Peak, opens a new window, an online service for Coloradans to screen and apply for medical, food, cash, and early childhood assistance programs.

If you would like assistance in applying for any of the discounted fare programs, you can contact RTD, opens a new window or make an appointment with an Arapahoe Libraries librarian.

The ticket vending machines at the light rail stations will take debit or credit cards and will also make change for you (in coins, $20 bill holding individual rider beware!). You will need exact change for the bus, drivers do not carry or make change. If you have an RTD-issued prepaid ticket, you will need to either insert it into the bill feeder on the bus or have it stamped at the ticket validating machine at the light rail station. If you have a MyRide prepaid card, you will need to tap it on the card reader as you board the bus or train.

Payment is expected before boarding. On the bus, the driver will see you make your payment. On the Light Rail, RTD personnel will check fares periodically. If you have a pass or ticket issued at a lower price for a particular population (i.e. high school students, military, seniors, or passengers with disabilities) you may be asked for additional identification showing that you qualify for the reduced fare.

View a map of Rail Fare Zones, opens a new window. Visit the RTD Fares page, opens a new window for the most up-to-date information.

How to Transfer (if you need to take more than one bus or train)

Some trips will require more than one bus or train to reach your destination. If you are transferring from the bus to another bus or a train, ask the driver for a transfer when you board. You will be given a small slip of paper with the date, direction of travel and time of expiration stamped on it. Transfers can only be used for same day travel and must be used before the printed time of expiration (usually about 2 hours). If you need to transfer to a bus or train that charges a higher fare (for example, if you have a local transfer and need to take a regional bus or take the commuter line to the airport) you will need to pay to upgrade your transfer.

If you are transferring from the light rail to a bus or another train, your light rail ticket or validated ticket will serve as your transfer. These tickets will also have a time of expiration listed on them.

Bus and Train Hubs

All light rail stations will have bus stops for passengers who need to make transfers. The signs at the light rail station bus stops should indicate the direction of travel (for instance, the 83L westbound (WB) or the 83L eastbound (EB)) for each bus. These signs will be black with gray lettering, as opposed to the red bus stop signs that you have probably seen throughout the Denver metro area.

Bus and Train Schedules

Buses and trains run on predesignated timetables at regular intervals (so, every 15 minutes, every half hour, every hour, etc). You can get paper schedules at bus depots (like Union Station or the Federal Center), on the bus or train and at many community centers. Most Arapahoe Libraries carry paper schedules for the routes serving that location. You can also look up schedules online, opens a new window or call RTD at 303-299-6000 for up-to-date schedule information.

For trains and buses designated "Limited" (with an "L" after the route number, like the 15L that runs on Colfax Ave), all of the stops will be listed on the schedule, and the bus or train will not make additional stops in between those listed.

On all other bus schedules, only the most frequently used stops will appear on the schedule. The bus will stop at other bus stops in between the ones listed on the schedule. For stops that are on the route but not listed on the published schedule, you will need to find the two closest stops and make an educated guess about the time for your stop. You can also call RTD at 303-299-6000 for an exact time. If you have the "MyStop" number (see below), you can give that to the RTD representative or plug it in online to RTD's Next Ride locator, opens a new window to be certain you are getting information for the correct stop.

Anatomy of a Bus Stop Sign

An RTD bus stop sign lists the routes serving the stop (blue background with white letters), and which days of the week they stop there (black background with white letters). Each bus stop sign will also have a "MyStop" number (white background with black letters). This number will be useful if you need to call RTD or check online to see if your bus is running on time.

The video linked below is made by RTD and is a very helpful introduction to public transportation in Denver:

Last but not least, Arapahoe Libraries staff would be very happy to assist you in locating correct routes and times or applying for discounted fares. Contact us

Happy riding!