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RTD announces changes to Union Station bus concourse

Over the long term, RTD plans to establish paid fare areas, meaning only people who present appropriate fare will have access to the bus concourse.

DENVER — The Regional Transportation District (RTD) will make a series of changes in response to "unwelcome activity" at the Union Station bus concourse and surrounding area, CEO Debra Johnson said in a board meeting Monday.

"Restoring a welcoming environment and ensuring the safety and security of our employees, our customers and everyone who visits and lives or works near Denver Union Station is a top priority," Johnson said during a news conference on Thursday about RTD's plans.

Johnson said within the next six months:

  • Inoperative lighting will be replaced throughout the bus concourse.
  • Cleaning will be increased in the bus concourse.
  • Prerecorded audio announcements will be broadcast in English and Spanish. These announcements will include information on services, fares and public safety, "and hopefully will discourage unwanted activities," Johnson said. 
  • Electrical outlets in walkways will be deactivated or covered.
  • Restrooms, which have been closed since Dec.3, are expected to reopen during the second quarter of 2022 after extensive cleaning and repairs.

In six to 12 months, Johnson said:

  • TV monitors displaying security camera feeds will be installed at the main entrances. 
  • Commuter rail platform stairs will be converted to exit-only. 
  • Barriers will be installed to prevent access to areas between the elevators and glass walls at the Wewatta and Chestnut pavilions.
  • Floor decals and signage will be installed to encourage movement and discourage loitering.
  • Smoke detectors will be installed in restrooms.

Over the long term, Johnson said, paid fare areas will be established, meaning only people who present appropriate fare will have access to the bus concourse.

"While the creation of a paid fare area is likely the most impactful change that will be implemented to curtail the unwanted activities taking place in and around Denver Union Station, I want to stress that this is a significant change to current operations and must be done in a coordinated and diligent manner," she said. 

Johnson also said that while the changes are expected to improve the quality of RTD locations and services, she said that the problems are a result of larger issues.  

"While these changes, along with an increased police presence will have positive ripple effects throughout the transit system, the unwanted activities impacting the agency are a byproduct of complex, societal issues that RTD alone can not solve," she said. 

Johnson  also encouraged customers to download the Transit Watch app to report unwanted or suspicious activity at Union Station and any other RTD location.

> Watch Thursday's news conference below:

Johnson said the agency will need to implement changes to fare collection and install turnstiles at the concourse entries. RTD will also launch a public outreach campaign to tell customers about the changes, Johnson said.

Advocates with Denver Homeless Out Loud pointed out that many people who are experiencing homelessness get free bus passes anyway, so, they said, requiring tickets likely won't keep them out. 

Denver's crime map shows the Union Station area has the highest density of crime in the city. 

RTD union president Lance Longenbohn said it's not fair to put this responsibility on a staff that's stretched thin. 

"The drug use, the homelessness, the folks who need mental help -- all of that congregates around Denver Union Station, but they're not RTD problems," Longenbohn said. "And to fix those problems, to fix the problem at Denver Union Station, it needs to be a focus of much larger scope." 

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