Officials of the Bolder Boulder are bracing for the possibility of a traffic nightmare for the 42nd running of the Memorial Day race if RTD eliminates “RunRide” express service from points across the Denver metro area, which typically serves 13,000 people riding 113 buses on race day.
That figure represents 30% of the throng that runs America’s third-largest road race, which had 42,900 participants last year. RTD is weighing system-wide service reductions due to a shortage of drivers, and RunRide is among services proposed for elimination. The proposed changes also would eliminate express bus service to Broncos, Rockies and University of Colorado football games.
“If it goes away, oh boy,” said Cliff Bosley, Bolder Boulder’s race director. Race officials might have to reconfigure the launch sequence of the rolling wave start to accommodate traffic challenges, he said.
RTD has provided regional express service to the Bolder Boulder since 1995. Bosley sent out a blast email on Wednesday, alerting runners to the possibility that the service will be cut and drawing attention to 18 public meetings RTD is holding to solicit rider input before its board decides what services to cut as of May 17. The Bolder Boulder is set for May 25.
“There are folks that in response to our email are saying, ‘I love this service, and I don’t care if I have to pay for it on top of the race. It’s convenient, it gets me to town, they do a good job, it shouldn’t go away,’” Bosley said. “There are other folks I think that will say, ‘If I can’t get there by bus, I’m not coming.’”
RTD’s driver shortage has been well-documented. Drivers have been facing mandatory overtime, often working six days a week, and there have been frequent service disruptions in the form of canceled buses and trains.
“The goal here is to reduce the amount of mandating that happens so that working overtime for our operators is a choice they make, rather than something that they have to do,” said RTD spokesperson Laurie Huff. “I understand that people are frustrated. It’s important to understand that with this, or any of these potential changes within the proposal, none of this is something that we want to do.”
Staffing the RunRide has ripple effects across the system, Huff said, especially because it’s a special one-day event.
“That race is run on a Monday,” Huff said. “You have 113 operators that this is not part of their typically scheduled work. If you have 113 people working in a special circumstance on a Monday, we have to follow federal regulations that require a cap on the number of hours they can work throughout the week. You’ve got to figure out later in the week, how does that affect the workforce? Are you going to have to mandate (overtime for) more people? Are there runs that are going to have to be dropped as a consequence of offering the (RunRide) service?”
Huff said feedback from the public is “crucial” for the board and is taken seriously.
“It’s a proposal,” Huff said. “The board still has to make up its mind next month. They are relying on the public to tell them what they think.”