RTD Board of Directors elections 2022, District K: Troy Whitmore, Harvest Thomas III

The District K director represents Brighton, Todd Creek, Barr Lake, Hazeltine Heights, Derby and Commerce City.

An RTD bus pulls away from a stop on 47th Avenue in Montbello. Aug. 10, 2021. JoyAnn Keener Ruscha.

An RTD bus pulls away from a stop on 47th Avenue in Montbello. Aug. 10, 2021. JoyAnn Keener Ruscha.

Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite
Nathaniel Minor, CPR News

Incumbent Troy Whitmore and Harvest Thomas III are running for District K.

What’s your elevator pitch for why voters should choose you?

Whitmore – I am a collaborative, common-sense leader who is effective in working across the political spectrum to find solutions or craft policy to move RTD ahead. I am a long-time resident and community servant in District K (Adams County) and have served in a number of leadership roles. I am currently an RTD Director and Board Treasurer and seek my second and last term on the RTD Board.

Thomas III – Believe in Change-“Let me serve you to improve transportation access for all residents.”

What is the biggest problem facing RTD right now, and what would you do to fix it?

Whitmore – Workforce shortages.  Hopefully the new collective bargaining agreement, which I supported as a seated Board member, will increase both retention and recruitment. Wages, benefits and policies were improved. The strength of RTD is its employees. RTD must retain and expand its workforce in order to provide both reliable and expanded service.

Thomas III – Lack of bus stops throughout Colorado, safe and clean bus stop areas, address safety concerns. I would fix these issues by exploring ways to get more bus stops, accessibility for all and upgrade the bus stops to ensure they are all handi-cap accessible and safe.

As it emerges from the pandemic, RTD has prioritized transit service aimed at low-income and minority communities. Some once-popular routes that served wealthy areas remain suspended. Do you agree with this approach?

Whitmore – Yes

Thomas III – No

Explain your reasoning.

Whitmore – With staffing shortages, RTD has to prioritize service where it is needed and utilized. Hopefully, with increased staffing the agency can reinstate routes and increase transit availability to meet the needs of existing commuters and recruit new commuters.

Thomas III – I believe everyone should be treated fairly and just because they live in a wealthy area does not mean they do not need assistance with transportation.  Who determines what is considered wealthy and the once-popular routes are probably still needed.

What should RTD do to make passengers feel safer?

Whitmore – RTD, in conjunction with other agencies, has made significant progress in improving safety and security during the summer months of this year. Having mental health professionals accompany law enforcement officers to incidents has proven to be helpful in deescalating some interactions. Partnerships with other agencies are key to increased safety and security.

Thomas III – Clean safer bus stops with cameras, comfortable seating and an emergency push button

Do you use public transit in your life now?

Whitmore – Yes

Thomas III – Yes

If yes, how often? What do you use it for? If not, why not?

Whitmore – Unfortunately not as often as I would like. Service is not available for my short daily commute in Adams County. I mainly utilize the N-Line for meetings and entertainment events in Denver.

Thomas III – I find it easier when going to the downtown area and the airport.  Easier than paying and finding parking.

Should RTD encourage cities to build more dense development that could yield higher ridership?

Whitmore – Yes

Thomas III – Yes

Explain your reasoning.

Whitmore – I am a supporter of transit-oriented development. I am pleased that we are seeing more of this type of development in Thornton and now in Commerce City. I realize this lifestyle isn’t for everyone, but it is a good option for many who do not wish to own or operate a motor vehicle.

Thomas III – Yes, because if more people used ridership this would also help our environment.

RTD’s short-term financial picture has stabilized, but there are no plans to expand service in the foreseeable future. Should RTD ask voters for a tax increase to enable that?

Whitmore – No

Thomas III – Yes

Explain your reasoning.

Whitmore – I do not believe our taxpayers can tolerate an increase in their sales and use taxes in these difficult economic times. Additionally, sales and use taxes tend to fluctuate from year to year which makes planning and budgeting difficult.

Thomas III – Yes because this would help get more access for low income communities and new developments.

Should state government contribute more funding to RTD in order to expand service?

Whitmore – Yes

Thomas III – Yes

Explain your reasoning.

Whitmore – The average transit agency in the United States receives approximately 23 percent of its revenue from its state government. Historically, RTD receives only 1 to 2 percent of its revenues from the State of Colorado.  If the State of Colorado truly wants robust transit offerings it is time for the State to contribute more funds.

Thomas III – If state government contributed funding to RTD this would possibly assist with more stops, safer bus stops and encourage more resident to use public transportation.

Should RTD continue to save money toward the Boulder-Longmont train, and other unfinished FasTracks projects?

Whitmore – Yes

Thomas III – Yes

Explain your reasoning.

Whitmore – Completion of FasTracks (or agreed upon alternatives with local jurisdictions) needs to continue to be a priority. However, there are many other priorities such as workforce issues, fare analysis, system optimization, state of good repair, ridership recruitment and fleet electrification that are important as well.

Thomas III – These areas are growing rapidly and we will need to eventually complete the FasTracks project and have money on hand.

Should RTD reduce or eliminate its fares?

Whitmore – Yes

Thomas III – No

Explain your reasoning.

Whitmore – RTD’s fares are on the high side and the current ticketing program can be complicated and confusing. I am pleased that RTD is in the midst of a fare and equity study to take a comprehensive look at fares and related programs. If re-elected, I look forward to reviewing the results of the study next year and addressing our fare rates and programs.

Thomas III – We should keep the fares at an affordable rate and offer assistance if someone needs assistance for the low income but the fees help maintain the employees, bus stops, up keep for the public transportation.

Should RTD do more to better meet the needs of the disability community?

Whitmore – Yes

Thomas III – Yes

Explain your reasoning.

Whitmore – I believe RTD does a good job in this area but constantly strives for improvement. RTD has several, active advisory committees such as the Access-a-Ride Paratransit Advisory Committee (APAC) which meets regularly with staff and also interacts and reports to the Board.

Thomas III – Ensure all of the bus stops are handi-cap accessible, offer more door to door pick-up and when it’s snowing making sure the areas are plowed and safe.

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