Eagle County buses to kick off drunks | AspenTimes.com

Eagle County buses to kick off drunks

Melanie Wong
Vail correspondent
Aspen, CO Colorado

EAGLE COUNTY, Colo. ” Late-night ECO bus riders, watch your behavior ” you might be denied a ride.

ECO Transit’s new “zero-tolerance policy” means that anyone fighting or disrupting the bus service will be asked to leave at the next bus stop. Bus drivers will also deny rides to anyone who is too drunk to get on the bus, uncooperative toward the driver, or fighting.

Eagle-Vail resident Elisha Ben-Haim said he thinks the policy is a good idea. He rides the late buses back from work in Vail.

“That sounds OK to me if someone’s really out of order. If you have someone who is really disturbing and being a danger, it makes sense to get them off,” he said.

He said he has seen “loud, obnoxious” riders, but never anyone he would call dangerous. His only worry about the policy is that it might cause people to drive drunk instead of ride the bus.

But if someone is kicked off the bus alone, the police will give them a ride, and they will not be left in a dangerous situation, said Transit Manager David Johnson.

“We fully support ECO Transit’s policy,” said Vail Police Sergeant Craig Bettis. “But we do ask to be called immediately if they refuse someone a ride in Vail, so that we can make sure they are not in danger.”

An increase in incidents requiring police led to the crackdown on bad bus behavior.

Fighting, vomiting and police calls were noticeably higher last year, especially on the after-midnight buses, Johnson said.

Part of the cause is that the ECO bus system had a record number of riders last year and buses running at all times of day and night were often packed, he said.

Later buses tend to be rowdier because of people taking the bus after drinking at bars and clubs, but other people take the bus, too, Johnson said.

“The later buses are known as the ‘drunk buses,’ but there are also a lot of people who have just worked a 10-hour shift and just want a safe, pleasant bus ride home,” he said.

For example, if someone is fighting at the bus stop and then wants to get on the bus, that behavior will not be tolerated, Johnson said.

“Or if someone is belligerent to the driver and won’t pay the fare or are trying to use someone else’s pass, the driver can deny them a ride. Also, if someone is staggering like crazy can’t even get up the steps to the bus, that’s not appropriate behavior for the bus,” he said.

Transit officials are also worried about something a little less voluntary ” vomiting.

Vomit can carry contagious diseases, so anytime someone throws up on the bus, it poses a health threat and the bus must be pulled off the route to be cleaned, said Transit Director Harry Taylor.

“Puking, hurling or whatever you want to call it is no longer a laughing matter. It is a health hazard and a major disruption to our service,” Taylor said.


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