By Jesse Sarles

DENVER (CBS4) – Denver’s mayor blames deadly, illegal drugs for the ongoing disturbances in the underground bus station and platforms at Union Station. He and other city leaders as well as RTD officials discussed efforts to make that area safer in a Wednesday news conference.

RTD CEO Debra Johnson (credit: CBS)

They acknowledged that the crime and drug use in the transportation hub is one of the biggest issues Denver is facing right now. They want to make people feel comfortable coming downtown and using Regional Transportation District services.

One part of the plan is limiting access to the bus terminal to paying customers only.

Since last year, they have increased their security presence at Union Station and have made more than 700 arrests there so far in 2022.

The interim RTD transit police chief says riders can also expect to see even more officers on buses and at terminals starting next Monday.

The bus concourse at Union Station (file photo by John Leyba/The Denver Post via Getty Images)

Long-term, there’s also a plan to create a paid fare only area where only ticketed passengers can get in, but RTD CEO Debra Johnson says it will take 12 to 16 months to get the design and materials in place.

“We do not want to limit access for people with disabilities, when you want to ensure that we maintain emergency exits. All of those different things will come into play, and it’s just contingent upon us being able to go through the procurement process and basically have a design that we can then leverage and ensure that we can get a contractor on board to address those design issues,” Johnson said.

Police are also asking riders to download the RTD Transit Watch app so they can report any problems, and that will help them determine where to deploy more officers. That’s because they say this issue extends beyond just the Union Station area.

Jesse Sarles