How to get to Broncos stadium: Transit options for game day

Denver Broncos fans looking to get to Saturday’s preseason game — or to any home game this season — without driving no longer have a familiar transit option: RTD’s BroncosRide bus service remains suspended for the coming season.

But the Regional Transportation District and the Bustang regional bus service are offering other ways to get to Empower Field for the first full-capacity games since 2019.

Bustang, which is provided by the Colorado Department of Transportation, will offer rides to the stadium from Fort Collins and Colorado Springs starting Saturday.

As for RTD, three light rail lines on game days will serve the Empower Field at Mile High Station, which is a light stroll from the stadium under Interstate 25 and across the South Platte River. Most other rail lines connect indirectly via Union Station and other transfer points, while several bus routes make stops near Empower Field.

Translation: You can still get to the game via RTD, but depending on where you live, it may take longer and involve more walking. But RTD said its trains have the capacity to absorb the slack, and it will add extra train runs or cars as necessary.

Why RTD suspended BroncosRide last year

RTD suspended BroncosRide service early last year, as part of a wider plan initiated just before the pandemic to deal with a severe operator shortage. Since the Broncos played under a limited-capacity crowd last year, the suspension didn’t affect riders as starkly as it will this fall.

General manager and CEO Debra Johnson told RTD’s board this week that mounting the game-day operation takes too many buses and drivers to pull off. RTD continues to weather an operator shortage, and she said staffing the BroncosRide buses two years ago required forced overtime for drivers.

Mona Moffatt, a longtime season-ticket holder, is among fans with physical disabilities who depended on a BroncosRide bus in recent years and appreciated its close-in dropoff point in one of the stadium lots. She said that during a recent dry run on a light-rail train, it took her about 30 minutes to reach Empower Field from the station because of her slow gait.

She faulted RTD for poor communication to riders and for its priorities.

“I know they’re in a hard place, and they seem to just do things on the fly,” said Moffatt, 72, who lives in southwest Denver.

A team official also expressed disappointment with the continued BroncosRide suspension in a recent news release.

Since the mid-1970s, the RTD service has ferried thousands of fans directly to the stadium and back again, at the cost of a regular fare. Two years ago, it picked up fans from 20 locations, making 155 trips for each preseason game and 204 trips for each regular-season game, according to a July memo from Johnson to RTD board members about the basis for the suspension.

BroncosRide averaged 5,600 roundtrip riders during the 2019-20 regular season. But that reflects a steady decline since the 2012-13 season, when nearly 9,000 fans per game used the service, RTD data show.

The RTD memo last month said that even with BroncosRide as an option, more fans — typically 8,000 to 10,000 — have taken rail lines to games in recent years.

Ways to get to Broncos games

RTD, Bustang and the team itself highlighted these options. Note that federal rules still require riders on RTD and Bustang buses to wear masks, and RTD suggests buying round-trip tickets on the first leg of the trip to save hassles on the return.

  • RTD trains: Riders living in the west and south metro areas, as well as central Denver, have the most direct options by rail. The E and W light rail lines stop at the Empower Field Station, and the C-Line, which is currently suspended, will be reinstated on game days for limited service before and after the Broncos play. The A, B, G and N commuter rail lines and Flatiron Flyer buses from Boulder end at Union Station, a short walk from the light rail platform served by the E and W lines.
  • RTD buses: The 30 and the 31 routes both travel on Federal Boulevard near the stadium. The Decatur and Federal station south of Empower Field is a stop on the 1, 15L, 16 and 31 bus routes. Several other bus routes stop at Union Station, allowing a transfer to the E and W lines.
  • Bustang to the Broncos: CDOT’s service offers two round-trips on game days for $30 — one that picks up at four points near Colorado Springs and Monument, and the other picking up from Fort Collins and Loveland. The buses are scheduled to arrive at the stadium about 90 minutes before kick-off and depart 30 minutes after the game is over. Visit www.ridebustang.com/bustang-to-broncos to buy tickets.
  • New carpool option: the Broncos are offering a $30 carpool option this season in 469-space Lot A for vehicles carrying at least four people, until spaces run out. No tailgating is allowed in the lot.

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