Winter Weather Colorado (copy)

A maintenance worker plows the inner road of Washington Park in Denver in this March 13 file photo. On Tuesday, the Regional Transportation District’s real-time transit schedule website, Next Ride, went down, leaving riders with no way of knowing when they’d be picked up.

Commuters trying to take a train or bus Tuesday during a snowstorm that dumped several inches of snow across Denver were left feeling cold and in the dark — but not just because of the weather.

Rather, the Regional Transportation District’s real-time transit schedule website, Next Ride, went down, leaving riders with no way of knowing when they’d be picked up.

Also inaccessible was the real-time data that informs Google Maps and the Transit app, as well as the schedule pages on the agency’s website.

“We found that our server that houses the applications was overloaded,” RTD spokeswoman Tina Jaquez told Colorado Politics in an email. “We are looking into what we can possibly do to expand that capacity.”

The Next Ride server experienced a higher amount of traffic Tuesday morning with about 1,300 unique users —nearly triple the volume on a normal day, Jaquez told CPR.  

By about 2 p.m., RTD tweeted that the issues affecting Next Ride, Rider Alerts and schedule information on its website “had been resolved.” But not before they received an earful from riders on social media.

“Would be nice to know when buses are over 30 mins delayed or being cancelled while stuck in the snow trying to get to work,” one rider tweeted.

Another commuter said that, because of a lack of real-time data, he “saw dozens of people huddled at bus stops without shelters” while biking to work.

And that wasn’t the end of RTD’s problems Tuesday.

An agency already facing a shortage of drivers, RTD felt the pain of more employees calling in sick than usual Tuesday, Denverite reported. Light rail operators had an absence rate of about 5% compared with a typical 2%, and bus drivers saw an absence rate of about 12% compared to the usual 9%.

RTD also said on Twitter that systemwide delays ranged between 15 and 30 minutes on bus routes, as well as up to 15 minutes for light rails.

But the rough day didn’t end there. The agency also reported frozen switches at Union Station and Stout Street that caused route changes and delays for the C, E and L lines. Some trips had to be canceled altogether.

Weather woes

RTD was not the only agency whose day was impacted by the snowfall.

By 5:45 p.m. Tuesday, the Denver Police Department reported 143 traffic crashes since midnight.

Denver City Government announced it would close at 2 p.m. Tuesday, and Denver Public Schools began releasing middle school and high school students at noon and elementary schools at 2 p.m.

Meanwhile, Denver International Airport had canceled nearly 550 flights as of Tuesday evening, with more than 460 flights delayed.

Wednesday could prove to be another tricky day for RTD and other city agencies, as it’s estimated that more snowfall could leave up to a foot of snow blanketing the metro area, according to the National Weather Service.

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