Denver instructed to file corrective action plan in response to January light rail crash

DENVER — Denver’s Regional Transportation District has been ordered to file a “Corrective Action Plan” with Colorado’s Public Utilities Commission in response to the crash of an RTD light rail train in January.

The crash severed a woman’s foot.

However, the FOX31 Problem Solvers are learning the details about that crash are considered “Highly Confidential”.

The crash happened Jan. 28, 2019, around 7:15 a.m. Investigators determined speed was the primary factor in the crash, and the driver was fired.

Pauletta Tonilas, RTD assistant general manager, told the Problems Solvers several safety measures have already been put in place following the crash. Those measures include more training, more speed limit signs and additional safety bulletins. Tonilas said RTD is “taking a look at all of our processes and seeing what we can tweak what we can change.”

Colorado’s Public Utilities Commission did not want to talk to the Problem Solvers on camera. Instead, it sent a letter denying our request for reports and photos from the crash. The PUC cites the “Highly Confidential” nature of the reports and the fact the reports must be filed with “Extraordinary Protections” as reasons not to release the information. This eliminates the opportunity for any outside agency or expert to review the reports and make independent assessments or recommendations.

According to Colorado’s Freedom of Information Coalition this limits scrutiny and transparency.

Jeff Roberts, the executive director of the coalition, said the transportation district may want to show the records to outside experts.

“Run the records by them and help the public understand more about happened in an incident whether it's truly safe to ride the light rail,” he said.

The Regional Transportation District maintains safety is the most important factor in its operation. It tells the Problem Solvers experts familiar with these types of crash investigations are working to find additional solutions and safety options. It also points to the fact that in 13 million miles of Light Rail Service in the last year the crash at Sable Boulevard and Exposition Avenue was the only crash which was preventable.

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