Bus drivers union calls Denver Union Station a "hellhole."

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Chas

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This is more about the bus service than Amtrak, but Amtrak passengers will experience some of the same stuff.
 

daybeers

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RTD seems really mismanaged and has misplaced priorities. They have spent billions upon billions building extremely expensive commuter rail to parking lots in the middle of nowhere. Most of it is honestly a fancy road project with upgrades, overpasses with the rail line, etc. And the light rail is quite slow. They want to spend more money because they had cost overruns. Maybe try reducing the width of the roads/stroads/highways in the metro area first and spending a fraction of it on housing and job services. Clearly the people who are camping out in the bus terminal don't have anywhere else to go. Colorado's housing problem is an epidemic and I saw it firsthand two months ago.
 
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sttom

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Public transit in Colorado contains some of the weirdest agencies and plans that I have come across. Beyond FasTracks not working as planned and it costing more despite the promise of the P3 was it would be cheaper than if RTD did the whole thing themselves. Union Station was a glamour project and I'm surprised the transit workers union was the first to mention anything. Given that Union Station is basically a mall with a bus station in the basement, I'm surprised "important people" haven't said anything sooner. Lets hope they clean the place up before the high speed Amtrak line opens, if Colorado Springs doesn't kill it.
 

Chas

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I'm not familiar with the station. Does Greyhound operate out of there? If not, they are probably missing out on an untapped customer base.
The station is served by Amtrak (California Zephyr) plus the RTD [Regional Transporation District] buses and light rail, such as the train out to Denver International Airport. No intercity bus service that I am aware of.
 

Saddleshoes

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I had an afternoon to kill at Denver Union Station this past Aug. I wandered around a bit. I did feel a bit uncomfortable on the west end of the bus station. There were small groups camped out in corners of the place. I made it my business not to look into their business and moved on by.

At the time I thought Denver is looking like the station in Seattle.
(One wonders if the legalization of recreational marijuana in both states has anything to do with the similarities????)
 
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Willbridge

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The article missed several things.

Greyhound moved into the RTD station as part of their national downsizing. The underground bus station was not designed to handle their operation. It was especially not designed to handle passengers who might have to wait many hours camped out on the few benches.

The City and County of Denver closed Civic Center Park which had become a focal point for all the negative activities that are mentioned. The lawns look a lot better at Civic Center now but the people who were rousted just moved to the other end of the Mall.

Ironically, one reason that the homeless people like Union Station is because it has better security than the Civic Center area. Unfortunately, an hour of security costs about the same as an hour of bus service, so every time a security improvement is promised that's a cutback promised as well.

There are real problems but the author of the LinkedIn post is a disgruntled former RTD operator and union activist who leans toward strict enforcement of behavior rules. I would read his anger at management for not sending security out on buses to enforce mask rules and then get on a train and see the operator chatting with colleagues who were not masked. Palmgren never criticized his union brothers and sisters.

A future problem is that the governor has been kicking around the idea of offering free transit service. Previous experience with this is that it will draw more social problems.
 
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The station is served by Amtrak (California Zephyr) plus the RTD [Regional Transporation District] buses and light rail, such as the train out to Denver International Airport. No intercity bus service that I am aware of.
Not to quibble, but the trains I saw in Denver looked more like heavy commuter rail, especially since the Hyundai Rotem cars are nearly identical to the Silverliner Vs used by SEPTA in Philadelphia for its commuter rail system.
 

Chas

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Not to quibble, but the trains I saw in Denver looked more like heavy commuter rail, especially since the Hyundai Rotem cars are nearly identical to the Silverliner Vs used by SEPTA in Philadelphia for its commuter rail system.
The difference between "light" and "heavy" commuter rail is above my pay grade, although I have seen the SEPTA trains you mention. Maybe you saw the airport train? It runs frequently.
 
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Chas

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The article missed several things.

Greyhound moved into the RTD station as part of their national downsizing. The underground bus station was not designed to handle their operation. It was especially not designed to handle passengers who might have to wait many hours camped out on the few benches.
The last time I was in Union Station as a passenger was 2018. I saw recently that the old Greyhound station in downtown Denver was demolished, though. Maybe the Union Stationwebsite needs updating, as govt sites often do. I see that Greyhound's site says that they use Union Station.
 
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ScottR

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Very odd. I have just recently travelled through Denver twice on the Zephyr, and saw none of this. The train from DIA to Union Station was clean, on time, and easy to get to. Union Station had a lot of good bars, restaurants and hotels within easy walking distance, and I would love to stay in the hotel inside the station (the Crawford) someday. Just did not see any of this at all. A few homeless…but nothing you don‘t see everywhere in any big city…mostly worldwide.
 
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The article missed several things.

Greyhound moved into the RTD station as part of their national downsizing. The underground bus station was not designed to handle their operation. It was especially not designed to handle passengers who might have to wait many hours camped out on the few benches.

The City and County of Denver closed Civic Center Park which had become a focal point for all the negative activities that are mentioned. The lawns look a lot better at Civic Center now but the people who were rousted just moved to the other end of the Mall.

Ironically, one reason that the homeless people like Union Station is because it has better security than the Civic Center area. Unfortunately, an hour of security costs about the same as an hour of bus service, so every time a security improvement is promised that's a cutback promised as well.

There are real problems but the author of the LinkedIn post is a disgruntled former RTD operator and union activist who leans toward strict enforcement of behavior rules. I would read his anger at management for not sending security out on buses to enforce mask rules and then get on a train and see the operator chatting with colleagues who were not masked. Palmgren never criticized his union brothers and sisters.

A future problem is that the governor has been kicking around the idea of offering free transit service. Previous experience with this is that it will draw more social problems.
From the original quoted article:

"Union Station has high crime concentration
The Problem Solvers also found the Union Station area has Denver’s second-highest concentration of violent crime."

This is a little misleading, as there's a difference between the "Union Station Area" and Union Station itself. The other thing to realize is that there is going to be somewhere in the city that has the "highest concentration of violent crime." What would be more informative is the actual rate of violent crime in these areas. Basically, what's your chances of being physically attacked? How much different is that risk compared to other areas in the city? I wouldn't be surprised that the description of the social problems is an accurate one, but how serious is the threat to public safety?
 
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Very odd. I have just recently travelled through Denver twice on the Zephyr, and saw none of this. The train from DIA to Union Station was clean, on time, and easy to get to. Union Station had a lot of good bars, restaurants and hotels within easy walking distance, and I would love to stay in the hotel inside the station (the Crawford) someday. Just did not see any of this at all. A few homeless…but nothing you don‘t see everywhere in any big city…mostly worldwide.
I think this is the bus station, which is on a lower level. I passed through in 2015, riding the express bus that ran from the airport before they started service on the A Line train.
 

jebr

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Very odd. I have just recently travelled through Denver twice on the Zephyr, and saw none of this. The train from DIA to Union Station was clean, on time, and easy to get to. Union Station had a lot of good bars, restaurants and hotels within easy walking distance, and I would love to stay in the hotel inside the station (the Crawford) someday. Just did not see any of this at all. A few homeless…but nothing you don‘t see everywhere in any big city…mostly worldwide.
Admittedly it's been over a year since I've passed through Denver Union Station, but I found that while the headhouse and platforms generally didn't have any major noticeable issues (a few homeless and the like, but nothing out of the ordinary,) the bus station on the lower level has been a fair amount sketchier. I've never had any direct problems, but it definitely had that "sketchy Greyhound station" vibe to it, and it wasn't a place that I really felt like lingering for too long in.
 
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(One wonders if the legalization of recreational marijuana in both states has anything to do with the similarities????)
The drug problems cited in the original quoted article specifically mentioned meth and heroin, not cannabis. And, from what I understand, even in Colorado, where cannabis is legal, it is still illegal to smoke it in public. Which is a good thing. Even though I support, in general, the legalization of recreational cannabis, the reek of secondhand weed smoke is disgusting and unpleasant. There's a reason why some of the varieties are called "skunk."
 

Willbridge

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The last time I was in Union Station as a passenger was 2018. I saw recently that the old Greyhound station in downtown Denver was demolished, though. Maybe the Union Stationwebsite needs updating, as govt sites often do. I see that Greyhound's site says that they use Union Station.
The Union Station website is run by the promoters.
 

Willbridge

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From the original quoted article:

"Union Station has high crime concentration
The Problem Solvers also found the Union Station area has Denver’s second-highest concentration of violent crime."

This is a little misleading, as there's a difference between the "Union Station Area" and Union Station itself. The other thing to realize is that there is going to be somewhere in the city that has the "highest concentration of violent crime." What would be more informative is the actual rate of violent crime in these areas. Basically, what's your chances of being physically attacked? How much different is that risk compared to other areas in the city? I wouldn't be surprised that the description of the social problems is an accurate one, but how serious is the threat to public safety?
The statistical area includes much of the nightlife activity and after midnight it can get rough. The residential neighbors are pressing for more control of that industry, which is fueled by adjacency to Coors Field. All of that goes into the statistics for Union Station.
 

CCC1007

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The difference between "light" and "heavy" commuter rail is above my pay grade, although I have seen the SEPTA trains you mention. Maybe you saw the airport train? It runs frequently.
The light rail cars are the ones that don't offer level boarding at all doors, at least in Denver.
 

Willbridge

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The difference between "light" and "heavy" commuter rail is above my pay grade, although I have seen the SEPTA trains you mention. Maybe you saw the airport train? It runs frequently.
The classifications as used by RTD are "Light Rail" = low-level boarding, able to run in traffic, 750VDC, 55 mph top speed, regulated by FTA, PUC, municipal traffic engineers. "Commuter rail" = high-level platforms, confined to rail ROW's, 25KVAC, 79 mph top speed, regulated by FRA, PUC. All of the Light Rail lines and one of the Commuter Rail lines are run by RTD. Commuter Rail A, B, G-Lines are run under a DBOM contract.

"Heavy Rail" refers to rapid transit lines like the classic subway systems. The terms "Light" and "Heavy" refer to the degree of infrastructure investment and carrying capacity, not to the weight of vehicles.

Because Light Rail came first in Denver and an attempt to give it a cute name failed, people often refer to any RTD rail operation as Light Rail. Originally, all of the RTD rail lines were planned to be Light Rail. Some accidents elsewhere led to FRA and the Class I's demanding that the new lines adjacent to the freight lines meet FRA standards. With consultants familiar with SEPTA, and given the timing of the purchases, RTD's contractor bought the second batch of Hyundai Rotem emu cars, benefiting by not being first.

2015 July.jpg
 
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So the armed security guard doesn’t feel safe?

So what happened to the transit police?

Or was the I imagining that the guys checking tickets and hanging out at the Denver Union Station were transit police to begin with?

Drug user are using there products in public space more often, so when they OD they can be spotted and helped.

Seems to be a national problem, not just in Denver.
 
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There's three "Union Stations" to discuss here:

1) The building which is comprised of a food court and a boutique hotel.
2) The Amtrak and RTA Rail platform areas
3) The underground bus loading terminal (which might as well be another world entirely, since Amtrak passengers only see it if they're looking for it.)

Most of the problems are confined to #3. While I've seen some security incidents worth noting on the RTA platforms on my times riding through on the CZ, I've never felt unsafe in that area. I always use that opportunity to get off the train, head over to the Whole Foods or partake of the offerings in the Union Station building.
 

mlanoue

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Haven't been to Denver Union Station since the pandemic, but I agree that the main building with the hotel and restaurants is generally clean and safe--except for the restroom. I saw a few people hanging around in there before I went to get breakfast still in there when I came back an hour later. It all came off as pretty sketchy. So, that's pretty unfortunate. Otherwise it's a really great place.
 

BoulderCO

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I use Union Station proper when riding Amtrak and the adjoined RTD bus terminal for regional bus transit from Boulder. They are indeed VERY different experiences. Union Station itself is quite pleasant, and as a consequence, attracts a lot of visitors from the general public who aren't interested in either busses or trains. It enjoys a well-deserved reputation as a magnet for dining and drinking and, to a certain extent, shopping.

The point is, that since this is an Amtrak forum, readers should have no concern about unpleasant conditions during their trip. And, they would enjoy visiting Union Station while in Denver if time permits.

I agree, however, that the RTD bus concourse would benefit from increased law enforcement presence.
 

CCC1007

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There's three "Union Stations" to discuss here:

1) The building which is comprised of a food court and a boutique hotel.
2) The Amtrak and RTA Rail platform areas
3) The underground bus loading terminal (which might as well be another world entirely, since Amtrak passengers only see it if they're looking for it.)

Most of the problems are confined to #3. While I've seen some security incidents worth noting on the RTA platforms on my times riding through on the CZ, I've never felt unsafe in that area. I always use that opportunity to get off the train, head over to the Whole Foods or partake of the offerings in the Union Station building.
There is an often overlooked fourth portion of the station, the three track Light Rail platform area on the other end of the Bus terminal, next to the BNSF/UP joint line bypass of downtown.
 
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