Denver7 | Traffic


Fear of getting assaulted, drug use are factors in RTD driver shortage

Officials plan to double the number of armed transit police who patrol buses and trains by the end of the year
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Posted at 3:07 PM, Apr 14, 2024
and last updated 2024-04-15 08:08:55-04

Robert Pumphrey pulled his RTD bus into the Westminster public transit station earlier this month, got out and faced a belligerent man who head-butted Pumphrey and punched him in the face.

An ambulance took Pumphrey, 68, to a hospital for treatment. His eye and the side of his face swollen, he was driving again three days later but wondered whether the attacker might return — “the first thing on my mind,” Pumphrey said during a break, ruling out retirement. “I’m a senior citizen. But in this day and age, you’ve got to keep working to make a living.”

In January, a Regional Transportation District driver at the end of her Colfax Avenue route went to the back of her bus to roust a rider who seemed to have fallen asleep, standard protocol. He popped up and assaulted her, leaving her bruised with broken ribs. She, too, was planning to keep driving after completing physical therapy.

As RTD struggles to fill its openings for bus and light rail drivers, violence and illegal drug use on public transit create an obstacle to attracting and retaining employees, despite wages that allow a driver to earn more than $80,000 a year.

“Would you want to work for an agency where, as an operator, you have to smell meth on your train? People have a choice in where to work. Nobody wants to work where they might be assaulted and have to smell meth,” RTD board member Paul Rosenthal said, referring to a bus driver who’d been exposed to drug fumes and needed medical treatment for headaches.

Continue reading on The Denver Post

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