DENVER (KDVR) — RTD’s Board of Directors was holding a vote Tuesday to fortify the “Respect the Ride Code Of Conduct.”
The meeting comes after ongoing demand for enforcement based on reports of violent threats, lewd behavior, drug use and trashed buses and trains.
Rider Brandon Cobb uses the train daily and witnesses open drug use and threatening behavior.
“With the kids that ride, that’s not safe at all, so I think they should limit the people that are doing drugs on the train and just cut that immediately,” Cobb said.
Bus drivers and passengers made public comments at the meeting, citing incidents of assault, discoveries of human waste on seats and on stairs, noxious smoke from drugs inhaled on the train or bus and dangerous threats. One community worker said many low-income residents have taken out high-interest predatory loans to buy a car rather than risk riding the bus.
RTD’s board received letters from metro-area city officials asking for stronger enforcement.
RTD logs assaults, especially on the 15 bus line
FOX31 found RTD documented at least 178 passenger assaults in 2021 and the first part of 2022.
Combined, the 15 and 15L bus lines, which travel along Colfax Avenue between Denver and Aurora, accounted for more than a third of all documented incidents.
RTD’s police chief has proposed suspending offenders and adding additional officers. The code of conduct includes a requirement for tickets to be purchased and presented in order to ride and a ban on all types of harassment, bullying and violent language that causes others to fear for their safety.
One rider told FOX31, “I go to work. I depend on it, so I would like to feel safe.”
The Colorado Coalition For The Homeless said members work closely with RTD to address these issues. A main concern is enforcement.
The Coalition agrees that everyone deserves to feel safe on public transportation and criminal activity committed by the unhoused must be addressed, but in a fair manner.
“They should be subject to the same laws as housed individuals might be. We’re not saying this is a free-for-all space. We’re just saying people shouldn’t be profiled or they shouldn’t be excluded from using the services simply because they are unhoused,” the Coalition’s Cathy Alderman said.
Many riders say they have compassion for those who need shelter and are not looking to make any trouble or threaten others.
“I think if they’re trying to find shelter as far as being on the train, that’s OK, as far as going back and forth to wherever they need to go,” Cobb said.
The Coalition recommends that anyone looking to support the effort to help the homeless and provide resources or make referrals review this list of organizations and facilities.