RFTA aims to beef up security on buses in Aspen, downvalley

This chart prepared by RFTA shows incidents on buses and RFTA facilities over the last three years.

The Roaring Fork Transportation Authority staff has unveiled a plan to beef up security on buses to try to reduce conflicts among passengers, assaults of drivers and damage to facilities.

RFTA’s management prepared a list of recommendations after meeting with drivers, operations supervisors and its existing security firm, Colorado Protective Service. They started meeting as the Driver Safety Taskforce and consulted with the representative of the drivers’ union. The recommendations will be presented to the board of directors Thursday.

The staff also will recommend banning open containers of alcohol on buses, but that will be discussed by the board at a later meeting.

“In recent weeks, it has come to the attention of RFTA and the RFTA board of increased concern about the safety of drivers in relation to violent and/or unruly passengers,” the staff memo says. “Several documented instances of driver confrontation and assaults have occurred. The RFTA board has expressed concern over these reports and has appropriated additional funds to combat disruptive behavior.”

The budget for security and loss prevention was increased to $125,000 this year from $80,000 last year. Now the staff is advising the board how to get bang for the buck.

The highlights include:

Increase security staffing on Fridays and Saturdays to one additional security officer with a focus on Snowmass Village routes and a presence up to 2:15 a.m.

Add a downvalley security person to ride between Glenwood Springs and El Jebel with coverage at Carbondale at 10 p.m. and at Glenwood Springs at midnight.

Add random security shifts to provide coverage in the morning, midday and early evening.

Work with local law enforcement agencies to require more police presence at key stop locations and on buses.

Revise signs to show that impediment of a bus operator is a violation of the RFTA Code of Conduct and a crime.

Work with the District Attorney’s Office to prosecute individuals who physically assault a bus operator or other passenger.

The memo pinpointed specific concerns such as camping in restrooms in downvalley areas, an increasing homeless ridership on some routes and “rowdy and unruly behavior” on the Aspen-Snowmass service.

RFTA said there were four assaults of drivers in 2017 after the agency experienced none the prior two years. The overall number of incidents increased from 59 in 2016 to 91 last year. The goal is to decrease incidents with extra security on buses.

The board of directors will meet for its regular monthly meeting in Carbondale on Thursday at 8:30 a.m. in Town Hall.