DENVER — Denver police have made more than 1,100 arrests at RTD's bus terminal near Union Station so far this year – that's up 192% since 2021.
The union representing RTD employees said it's helping to deter crime and drug use, but now bus operators are seeing some of those same issues pop up elsewhere in the city.
"There is a noticeable difference at DUS," said Ronald Short, vice president, Amalgamated Transit Union Local 1001.
Short said RTD operators see fewer people come to the terminal to do drugs or deal. Before this year, Short described the bus terminal as "lawless." He said employees were afraid to use the restroom at one point because they were in fear of being harassed and assaulted.
Their union credits the change to the increased patrols by Denver police since January. One-third of the 1,186 arrests have been drug-related. The Denver Police Department (DPD) placed area restrictions on repeat offenders and seized more than a dozen firearms from people who could not legally possess a gun.
"Significant impact on DUS but keep in mind the problem still persists," said Short. "Just now those same individuals are using the system to migrate to other areas of the metro area."
Short believes people started going to other stations once DPD began arresting more people at the bus terminal near Union Station.
The city talked about this during a safety committee meeting with council members on Tuesday.
"We also know when we address with such focus and intensity a problem in one location it often moves to another," said Evan Dreyer, deputy chief of staff for Mayor Michael Hancock. "We saw that at Civic Center Park. We have been seeing that at Union Station. Colfax and Broadway is a classic example right now where challenges have migrated to."
The city, RTD and DPD are pumping resources into Union Station to make it safer. They've deployed mental health clinicians, increased cleaning and added signage to encourage movement and discourage loitering.
"We are making progress on Denver Union Station. We are not finished. We are not going to stop," said Dreyer.
Upcoming enhancement projects at RTD include upgrading lighting and creating areas that require a paid fare.
The union said they've been working with RTD leadership to address issues at other stations. Right now, RTD works with police departments throughout the metro area to help with security.
RTD's new police chief Dr. Joel Fitzgerald said he hopes to hire more officers.
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