All aboard! This August, you can hop on any public bus or train in the Denver area, and many other parts of the state, without paying a dime. This is thanks to a bill Conservation Colorado helped pass earlier this year. SB22-180 created a grant program for participating transit agencies to offer free rides to everyone for the month of August during the height of Colorado’s ozone season.

Ozone is a health-threatening pollutant that has become Colorado’s worst air quality problem, and emissions from vehicles are a major contributor. Transportation is also the biggest contributor to climate change-causing pollution in Colorado. Switching to public transit can help a single commuter reduce their greenhouse gas emissions by 20 pounds per day, and improve our air quality!

Hop on board a bus or train this August to show you’re on board with cutting ozone and climate emissions and improving air quality.

Want to ride, but not sure how? Conservation Colorado staff have got you covered with this step-by-step guide to using public transit and our helpful insider tips.

1. Find your destination

Photo courtesy of RTD

If you don’t ride transit regularly, you might not know where you can go. Here are some suggestions for especially convenient or exciting trips in the Denver metro area that you can take for free this August.

  • RTD’s A Line train takes riders from downtown to the Denver International Airport. Enjoy a smooth ride and avoid expensive airport parking fees.
  • Many RTD bus and train routes converge at Denver’s Union Station. Taking public transit downtown can be a great way to avoid the hassle of downtown traffic and safely enjoy a few drinks if going out.
  • The Flatiron Flyer bus route runs from Denver’s Union Station to Boulder’s downtown station, where you can easily access trails, shops, and creekside fun.
  • If you live further than walking distance from frequent transit routes, see if there is a Park & Ride station near you. Most Park & Rides are free for up to 24 hours if your vehicle is registered within the boundaries of that station’s service district (check your district here).

Where you can ride FREE public transit in August

Insider tip:

 “My mom, who had never taken public transit in her life, rode RTD’s A Line from the airport the first time she visited me here, and now she loves it. She insists on taking it by herself when she visits now.”

Desiree Madrid, Community Fundraiser

2. Find your route

Photos courtesy of RTD

You can use the Google Maps app to figure out how to use public transportation to get from your home or current location to your destination. It’s easy!

Take these steps:

  1. Type in the address of the place you want to go.
  2. Select the “train” tab on Google Maps. You’ll see the recommended route as well as several backups.
  3. Tap on the route to show details, like where the bus will stop and how far you’ll have to walk between stops.
  4. If you need to get to your destination at a certain time or you’re looking to leave later, you can adjust the time by clicking the dropdown menu by the departure time and adjusting to your desired date and time.

Apple Maps, Uber and Lyft apps have a similar feature. These tools pull together data from all the transit agencies along your route. Often, they also include real-time updates about delays or scheduling changes.

You can also visit the website of your local transit agency for more information about bus and train routes, scheduling, and specific rules and guidelines for their services.

Insider tip:

“The Bustang is a great way to get from Fort Collins to Denver. But it’s only available in the early mornings and afternoon, so make sure to plan your trip around that schedule.”

Jesús Castro, former Front Range Community Organizer

3. Get on board

Once you know your route and timing, you’re ready to head to your stop. RTD bus stops are marked by a red and white sign, and many also have benches or shelters.

Insider tip:

“Arrive three to five minutes early to your stop to make sure you don’t miss your bus or train. You can check Google Maps to see real-time information about scheduling changes on your route.”

Patricia Ferrero, Protégete Leadership Development Manager

One of the most stressful parts of using transit can be figuring out how much and how to pay—some agencies have apps with day passes, others require exact change. Thanks to fare free transit month, you don’t have to worry about paying. Just hop on board!

Insider tip:

“You can bring your bike on the bus or train! Every RTD bus has a bike rack on the front. Let the bus driver know you want to load your bike before putting it on the rack. On the train, there are hooks near the door to hang your bike rather than standing with it and taking up more space.”

Jenny Gaeng, Transportation Policy Manager

4. Enjoy your ride

While you ride, you can rest easy knowing you will:

  • Stress less about traffic jams, parking availability, and accidents
  • Save money on sky-high gas prices
  • Spend more time relaxing—you can read, knit, or nap on the bus or train
  • See new places and discover where you can go using public transit

There are so many benefits to public transit—from encountering new people to seeing different parts of your city or town—but it can take a while to get used to. There are many ways to make your ride more comfortable and more fun.

Photos courtesy of RTD

Insider tips: