New operator safety shields aim to keep bus operators out of harm’s way

2020 changed the world forever. A once-in-a-lifetime global pandemic combined with societal issues hitting flashpoints and a pivotal United States election year led to the creation of a volatile environment for many, including the hundreds of RTD operators still on the road. Quick thinking and rapid adjustments were made to protect operators from COVID-19, the virus that sparked the pandemic. However, with operator assaults on the rise, quick action was needed to make it safer for operators to do their jobs. This understanding has evolved into one of the agency’s largest advancements ever toward operator safety. 

Work on a permanent safety barrier solution began shortly after the height of the pandemic. “We had to evolve from a COVID way of thinking into a way of thinking that could better protect drivers,” said Daniel Ortega, a body shop supervisor at District Shops. Full story.


R Line marks seven years of service

Tomorrow marks seven years since the opening of the R Line, extending light rail 10.5 miles from Nine Mile to Peoria stations, completing important rail connections on the east side of the metro area. The line provides service to important destinations like Aurora City Center, University of Colorado Anschutz Fitzsimons Medical Campus and connects light rail to the A Line to Denver International Airport. The train through Aurora’s city center was built to encourage an urban feel and provide access to numerous businesses, restaurants and government offices and bring new transportation and transit-oriented development options to the area. The R Line has eight stations in total, each with unique artwork, with some featuring independent works, while others incorporate art pieces into station design elements, such as pedestrian bridges, decorative rail, windscreens and canopy design. A signature feature of the R Line is the elevated light rail station that sits atop a bridge over Colfax Avenue, one of Aurora’s main streets. The station features a stunning, 252-foot-long arch that was fabricated by Schuff Steel Company of Kansas City, Kansas – the same company that produced steel for the open-air train hall canopy at Denver’s Union Station. At the ground level plaza area, a permanent art installation, titled “Aurora Night,” shines colored lights through suspended globes, projecting images and words underneath the bridge. The station acts as a gateway for the city of Aurora. The R Line was built to connect Aurora now and into the future as one of the most populated cities in the metro area.


Mental health clinicians, homeless outreach coordinator and RTD Transit Police, work together to address safety needs

In 2019, RTD became the first transit agency in the country to have a mental health clinician work alongside its transit police. Spearheaded by RTD Deputy Chief Steve Martingano, the agency started offering outreach services based on a pilot program with Well Power – formerly the Mental Health Center of Denver – and its mental health clinicians. The program has fostered agency relationships to increase customer access to resources in the RTD service area.

In January 2022, RTD added a homeless outreach coordinator to its outreach. Currently, two mental health clinicians and a homeless outreach coordinator are working on behalf of RTD. As part of the program, a RTD Transit Police officer accompanies a mental health clinician to areas within the agency’s district to provide referrals and resources, rather than make an arrest for what could be misinterpreted as criminal behavior rather than understood as a mental health crisis.

RTD’s outreach program is making a positive difference in being able to offer needed resources.

“The biggest improvement has been the building of trust with individuals that are experiencing homelessness and mental health issues. The Transit Police officers have made great strides in developing relationships with and directing people to outreach organizations for assistance,” Martingano said. Read more.