Heather Willard / NewsBreak Denver
(Denver, Colo.) Union Station’s RTD bus and commuter rail concourse is getting between $10-15 million in upgrades, and RTD launched a webpage for citizens to track progress or submit questions.
The station attracts “unwanted” activities, including violence, drug deals and use, and other petty crime despite the collection of thriving businesses including shops, restaurants and bars.
Many blame the crime increase on the homeless. During the pandemic, many in the homeless community used Union Station as other nearby shelters became unviable. Homeless individuals often experience drug addiction and/or mental health issues, which compounds their situations. This has led to hundreds of arrests in 2022 alone.
RTD hopes to improve pedestrian flow and has barred non-passengers from the terminal, which follow previous temporary closures of the terminal’s bathrooms. Some immediate measures are already in place, with the project anticipated to be completed in spring or summer 2023.
The infrastructure investments include:
- Brighter, consistent lighting
- “Enter” and “Exit” signs
- Coverage or deactivation of electrical outlets in walkways
- Barriers to prevent access between elevators and glass at Wewatta and Chestnut pavilions
- Conversion of the commuter rail platform stairs to emergency exit only
- Bathroom smoke detectors
- A paid fare area for passengers, which includes installation of turnstiles and exit gates
- Rollup doors for vehicle entrances to ramps
- TV monitors at main entrances to concourses for security personnel
RTD riders have expressed concern about the level of crime, both in Union Station and inside RTD vehicles. On Feb. 7, RTD added a new classification to categories for reportable offenses in the Transit Watch app, allowing passengers to record drug-related activity.
As of April 13, RTD police dispatch received 254 notifications related to drug activity, according to an RTD spokesperson. Drug use is not allowed on RTD property or vehicles. RTD will ask individuals caught doing prohibited activity to stop. If they persist, they will be asked to leave. Offenders who refuse to leave face having an RTD staff member report them for trespassing to law enforcement.
“Because our security cannot be everywhere, we encourage people to download and use the RTD Transit Watch app,” the spokesperson said, “which can notify RTD’s Transit Police Division through text, mail or call of issues related to any behaviors that are in violation of state statutes or RTD Passenger Code of Conduct.”