Big changes ahead for RTD’s pass programs. Wait, what are the pass programs?

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The RTD Station at 41st Avenue and Fox Street, May 18, 2017. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite) rtd station; denver; colorado; kevinjbeaty; denverite;

The RTD Station at 41st Avenue and Fox Street, May 18, 2017. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)

EcoPass, CollegePass, FlexPass -- these are some of RTD's more familiar group passes, but they could look different soon.

RTD is preparing to overhaul all its group passes, which represented about a third of RTD's fare revenue during 2016. Here's what you need to know. 

By the first quarter of next year, RTD's Pass Program working group should have recommendations for how to change four different individual passes and six different group pass programs that make it cheaper to use RTD.

This mandate goes all the way back to 2015. That was a big year for RTD, with fare restructuring and other policy changes, like the ones in its Nonprofit Program. After 2015, RTD says that its board of directors decided there should be "a thorough look" at all the policies govern its discount programs.

Fast forward two years, and you get the Pass Program working group, comprised of 26 people, mostly outside of RTD.

Now the working group is supposed to consider these different farebooks and passes holistically. In terms of fare revenue, the biggest ones are EcoPass, CollegePass and the monthly passes.

But as this is called the pass working group, let's look at just the six passes for a moment. Collectively, the passes represented $50,147,270 in revenue during 2016. In the chart below, three different EcoPass programs have been summarized together as "EcoPass."

To me, it makes sense that the EcoPass and CollegePass would be among the most utilized. In practice, both function like an unlimited smart card with a set monthly cost to either your school or your employer (who can pass the cost to you.)

The EcoPass even has subsidiaries, like the Neighborhood EcoPass, which allows small geographically bounded areas to buy passes in much the same way as an employer would. For example, this program allows apartment communities to buy a pass.

Then there's the FlexPass, which lets employers customize which passes their employee buys. And finally, the Nonprofit Program falls under this pass umbrella too.

Right now, the working group is venturing out into the community. The first meeting happened in Boulder, but there's one coming up in Denver on June 20.

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