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RFTA to revisit whether booze and buses mix

Scott Condon
The Aspen Times

The Roaring Fork Transportation Authority board of directors will consider Thursday if the agency should get more diligent about preventing people from drinking alcohol on buses.

RFTA currently has a policy that says no one can board a bus with an open container. RFTA contracts with a private security firm, Colorado Protective Services, to patrol Ruby Park to provide general security and prevent people from boarding with alcoholic beverages. “CPS is on duty from 9 p.m. until 2 a.m., five nights per week and intercepts most passengers that are drinking or have overconsumed,” said a memo to the RFTA board from the staff.

Other passengers pop a top once they enter the bus. “Most do so inconspicuously,” the memo said.

The bus drivers have enough responsibility keeping their eyes on the road and monitoring their rigs without keeping eyes peeled for drinkers, the memo continued. Passengers who are drinking are only asked to cease and desist if they are being disruptive. Law enforcement agencies are called to remove the parties if they don’t cooperate.

“RFTA has received very few complaints over the years regarding the current policy regarding the consumption of alcohol on buses.”

RFTA staff memo

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The issue will be reviewed because the RFTA board of directors decided in late 2016 it wants to spend more time addressing policy issues and decisions. It directed the staff in October to prioritize a list of policies for the board to revisit in 2017.

Several major issues will get a look over the course of year — from RFTA’s role in supporting the WE-cycle program to the winter closure of the Rio Grande Trail at Rock Bottom Ranch for the benefit of wildlife. The review will look at financial issues such as debt management practices and philosophical quandaries like whether RFTA should encourage greater use of the Rio Grande Trail or limit access to prevent degradation of the experience.

The alcohol policy wasn’t scheduled for review until July, but a different issue fell through for review this month, according to RFTA Chief Executive Officer Dan Blankenship.

The RFTA staff recommended keeping the current policy — patrol for nighttime drinkers and drunkards, but not make drivers responsible for ferreting out passengers who are inconspicuously drinking.

“RFTA has received very few complaints over the years regarding the current policy regarding the consumption of alcohol on buses,” the staff memo said.

However, the memo also noted that some public transit agencies ban food and beverages altogether. That makes it easier to spot people consuming alcohol.

“RFTA takes a more relaxed approach to food and beverages because of the long commutes and the desire to make riding the bus more attractive and comfortable for users,” the memo said.

The policy will be reviewed as part of the RFTA board’s regular monthly meeting. The meeting will start at 8:30 a.m. Thursday at Carbondale Town Hall.

scondon@aspentimes.com


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