Bus driver says RTD should have made COVID-19 changes weeks ago


DENVER (KDVR) — RTD will roll out more changes this week in response to the Covid-19 crisis, but drivers still have concerns moving forward.

Starting Sunday, RTD will temporarily suspend fares and ask passengers to enter through the rear door unless they require ADA assistance.

“They are certainly trying and doing the best that they can. It’s just not great,” said a bus driver who agreed to an interview with FOX31 under anonymity.

The driver sys others are particularly concerned about suspending fares for passengers, fearing it will lead to the homeless population taking advantage of the situation by staying on buses all day.

He says he is only seeing three to four people on his bus at a time, but other routes are far busier.

Video from a passenger on the 15 Eastbound Colfax shows more than a dozen people packed onto a bus with no chance of social distancing.

RTD responded to that video saying in part it is an exception to what most routes are experiencing at this time.

“Drivers can’t stop that. We are being told that we cannot stop that. Drivers are currently told we are to monitor the number of people on the bus and call in when it gets above 15 but that you are not allowed to refuse service,” said the driver.

He says he’s optimistic about the changes RTD is implementing but feels it would have been more effective two or three weeks ago.

RTD is launching a service reduction plan mid-month. This driver calls it a “dramatic cutback”, and worries how it will impact people who rely on public transportation.

“What I am worried about is the people who need my bus to get to work. They still need to go into work. The people that need my bus to go to the grocery store.”

RTD released an updated statement Saturday, addressing some of the concerns expressed by drivers.

“Being mindful of social distancing, RTD has been monitoring passenger loads on its bus and rail services. Bus operators seeing larger crowds forming along their route have been asked to call bus dispatch, so that additional buses can be deployed as they are available. However, social distancing is happening naturally across the RTD system, with very few riders on each bus or rail car.

RTD also asks that the public use judgment in deciding whether to board vehicles, depending upon the number of passengers already on them. The agency is installing signage on buses and trains asking riders to respect social distancing, which is everyone’s responsibility.”

RTD issued the following statement in response to concerns surrounding individuals who may take advantage of the suspension of fares.

“We have the passenger code of conduct that people must adhere to. Some of the provisions in the code of conduct would limit individuals from certain actions. To name a few; sleeping on a bus or train, taking up more than one seat, placing belongings on seats, eating or drinking in a vehicle, or not getting off at the final end point.

If individuals are riding the buses or trains and are not adhering to this policy, they will be asked to exit or be subjected to trespassing.”

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