Whether you’re visiting Denver or hoping to set up a car-free lifestyle there, you don’t want to miss out on anything this beautiful city has to offer. From bars and nightlife to the local art scene to serene parks and outdoor adventure, you might as well get everything you can out of the Mile High City. Plus, Denver’s buses and trains are 100% bike-friendly. You can find a great bike rental in Denver through Spinlister’s bike-share site. Between the bike and public transit, you’ll have a seamless and cost-effective system for your journey from suburban parks to downtown breweries.
And if you’re hoping to explore on a dime, the public transit system does offer a low-cost way to get around. While Denver’s bus and rail system isn’t nearly as comprehensive as the public transit options you’d find in New York or throughout Europe, it’s still fairly convenient compared to what you find in most other U.S. cities.
Here’s a closer look at all your options for exploring Colorado’s capital.
RTD: An Overview
Denver’s public transit system is known to locals as RTD—Regional Transportation District. RTD is an ADA-compliant system of buses and trains that offers a variety of fare options including one-way passes, day passes, 10-ride ticket books, and monthly passes. Discounts are available for riders who have disabilities, are over the age of 65, or receive Medicare. Fares are also lower for children between the ages of 6-19. Active duty military personnel ride free.
RTD consists of three fare zones. Fare zones 1 and 2 are local zones. Local fares are generally cheaper and routes are more concentrated to the downtown area. Fare zone 3 is a regional zone serving a larger portion of the Denver metroplex. Fare zone 3 is also what you’ll be looking for when it comes to travel to and from Denver International Airport.
As one would expect, there are bus and rail stops are more common and frequent in the downtown area, while your options grow more limited as you travel farther from the heart of the city. It’s also important to note that while RTD technically runs 24/7, many of the bus routes slow down after rush hour and stop running altogether overnight. When planning any trip on public transit in Denver, be sure to look at the schedule for your specific route.
Bike Rental in Denver
While public transit in Denver is fairly extensive, it doesn’t cover every nook and cranny of the city… especially as you venture beyond the downtown area. On the plus side, the Mile High City ranks among the most cyclist friendly communities in the nation. So tracking down a good bike rental in Denver is a great way to cover all your bases without shelling out a lot of cash for a car rental or ride share service. (Not to mention, you don’t want to miss the great bike trails this city has to offer.)
We recommend starting your search for a bike rental in Denver by checking out the bike share options available on Spinlister. You can find a wide variety of bikes from local cyclists, all available at exceptional rates.
Traveling by Bus in Denver
The RTD bus system is the most frequently used option for anyone who regularly turns to public transit in Denver. Although the bus routes thin out farther away from the downtown area, they are an excellent option for traveling through the heart of Denver.
If you decide to forego the pre-purchased pass and pay with cash, be sure to bring exact change. Also request a transfer slip from the bus driver if you have to change buses along your route. The transfer slip gets you on the connecting bus without having to pay an additional fare.
If you’re also exploring the city on two wheels, you’ll find the bike rack on the front of the bus. On that note, you should also know that public transit in Denver has a hub-and-spoke design, which means most routes will take you through downtown no matter where you’re going and where you’re coming from. If you want to bypass the frustration of rush-hour traffic, it’s a good idea to find a bike rental in Denver and take advantage of one of the most cyclist-friendly cities in the U.S.
Traveling by Rail in Denver
The RTD Rail System is your best option for traveling between neighborhoods. This system consists of nine different rail lines, totaling 90 miles of rail. For rail-based public transit in Denver, you have two options: the RTD Light Rail and the RTD Commuter Rail. The Commuter Rail—as you might guess—has longer routes and fewer stops. The Light Rail features frequent stops throughout Denver, but it’s still a better option than the bus system if you’re hoping to travel across multiple neighborhoods.
Your rental bike is allowed on both the Light Rail and the Commuter Rail. Light Rail trains include bike-specific platforms toward both the front and back of the train. That’s where you board. Your bike stays with you during the ride. Commuter trains accommodate you a bit more with vertical bike storage available on board the train.
Ride for Free on Public Transit in Denver
If you’re planning to spend the day in the downtown area, there are actually a couple options for getting around without paying a fare. Public transit in Denver includes the free Mallride, which runs along the 16th Street Mall. These fully electric buses give you access to all the shops, restaurants, and other attractions along 16th between the Civic Center and Union Station. The Mallride runs from early morning hours until a little after 1:00 a.m.
For a free trip through downtown during rush hour, you can rely on the MetroRide. This weekday option is designed to serve commuters with a fast, convenient way to get around downtown. The MetroRide features limited stops along 18th and 19th street between the Civic Center and Union Station.
However you choose to roam, enjoy your time in Denver. There’s so much to explore.