REGIONAL TRANSPORTATION DISTRICT (RTD)
Transit Agency Profile and Reason for Selection of Transit Agency
The Regional Transportation District (RTD) in Denver is one of a few transit agencies
nationwide that has developed a specific transit-related Design Criteria Manual for its new Light
Rail Transit (LRT) systems. What is specifically significant is that the agency introduced and
integrated both safety and security design requirements into its LRT Design Criteria Manual.
The intent of the LRT Design Criteria Manual is to establish general criteria to be used in the
planning and design phases of newly planned LRT capital improvement projects. One of the
primary goals of the manual is to provide guidance to project engineers and architects for the
initial inclusion of safety and security requirements during the planning and design phases of
RTD’s LRT projects. RTD developed and modified these safety and security design criteria as a
result of lessons learned from earlier LRT projects, safety design criteria from other agencies,
and results from security evaluations and Threat and Vulnerability Assessments (TVA). The
success of this initiative has not only motivated the agency to expand and improve the LRT
Design Criteria Manual for future approved LRT projects, but RTD is now developing new
Design Criteria Manuals to cover future bus operations and facilities and commuter rail capital
RDT’s Public Safety Division has the responsibility of the agency’s safety and security
requirements. The Public Safety Division is divided into sub-sections that include Safety,
Environmental and Security. The Division has 6 employees, 75 contracted security officers, and
a contract with the Denver Police Department to provide off-duty Police Officer security
The RTD system has evolved into a transit system that services an area of 2,406 square miles,
and includes 41 municipalities in 7 counties. The system has 176 fixed routes, which includes
local bus services along major streets, express and regional bus routes providing non-stop
services along longer distances, Denver International Airport bus service, a free shuttle on the
Sixteenth Street Mall in downtown Denver, and a LRT system service serving Denver and its
southwestern suburbs. Basic operations include the following.
Bus Operations: The bus fleet currently has 1,074 buses, with an average fleet age of 8.1 years.
Eighty-seven buses are leased to private carriers. Annual boardings are now approximately 83
million passengers (279,000 boardings on an average weekday) through a network of over
10,237 bus stops. There are currently six maintenance and storage facilities district-wide, 67
park-n-rides and 17 transfer stations.
Light Rail Operations: The light rail service operates on the existing 5.3 mile Central Corridor,
the 8.7 mile Southwest Corridor and the 1.8 mile Central Platte Valley Spur. The system
accommodates two lines, the C and D lines. The Southeast Corridor/T-REX design-build
project, adding approximately 19 miles of light rail service, is in construction and will be
operating by November 2006.
Other Services: In addition to the fixed route services, RTD provides services to sporting events
and other special events, special services for the disabled and senior citizens, and door-to-door
services in limited areas of the District.
The population of the Denver metro area grew from 2.1 million in 1995 to more than 2.6 in
million in 2005. Approximately 95 percent of the population of the region lies within the RTD
service area. The area’s rate of population increase peaked in 1999 and decreased steadily
through 2004. While continuing to grow, the region grew at a slower rate. In spite of a five-year
slowing trend, the area is forecast by the Denver Regional Council of Governments to grow to
2.87 million in 2010 and to 3.26 million in 2020, an increase of approximate 25 percent in 15
Climatic Considerations for Systems Design
The Denver metropolitan area, within which RTD operates, is situated at the foot of the eastern
slope of the Rocky Mountains in central Colorado. The area has a semi-arid climate that is
somewhat characteristic of the High Plains but is modified by the Rocky Mountains to the west.
Because of this, Denver lies in a belt where there is a fairly rapid change in climate from the
foothills to the plains. This change is largely caused by the increase in elevation as you travel
west to the foothills. Denver has an elevation of 5,280 feet.
The average annual temperature is about 50°F at this elevation, though this varies a few degrees
as elevation changes. The wide average range in daily temperature of 25° to 30°F in the Denver
metropolitan area and a wide average range in annual temperature are typical for the High Plains.
Temperatures vary from day to day; extremely hot weather in summer and extremely cold
weather in the winter normally do not last long and are followed by much more moderate
System equipment including vehicles, electrification power and distribution system, signal
system and fare collection/validation equipment along with track-work, stations and other civil
features must be capable of maintaining operation within the unique weather and elevation
conditions of the region.
Problem Identification and Need for Innovative Security Measures
In the transit community as a whole, safety and security requirements have tended to be an after-
thought in transit capital improvement projects. This has forced transit agencies to address
critical safety and security issues after the projects are designed, during project construction by
means of change orders, or even after project completion. One outcome of this approach is that
agencies must address un-programmed funding requirements for facility, equipment and or
systems changes that could have been avoided if these requirements were initially included.
Previous Attempts (if any) to Address Problem and Results
RTD originally developed an LRT Design Criteria Manual for the design and construction of its
initial LRT system, the Central Corridor, which opened for revenue service in October 1994.
There have been three subsequent extensions: the Southwest Corridor in 2000, the Central Platte
Valley Spur in 2001, and the Southeast Corridor scheduled to open in November 2006. The LRT
Design Criteria Manual went through a number of revisions prior to the design of each
subsequent corridor, including a significant revision in 2000 which included a new section
dedicated to system safety. The system safety section was originally developed from a
combination of RTD’s System Safety Program Plan (SSPP), Military Standard 882, APTA
guidelines, FTA requirements and recommendations, and a safety criteria model of the Portland,
Oregon transit system. In addition, safety revisions were also incorporated from lessons learned
from previous RDT LRT projects.
In November 2004, the Denver metropolitan area voters approved RTD’s FasTracks program,
consisting of 6 new rail corridors (119 miles total) including commuter rail, LRT, and possibly
Bus Rapid Transit (BRT). To address the ambitious needs of the FasTracks program, the LRT
Design Criteria Manual was again revised in 2005. This revision not only updated the safety
criteria but also introduced security criteria for the first time. RTD developed all of its security
criteria based on their System Security Plan (SSP), RTD requirements, FTA requirements and
recommendations, and as a result of security assessments and Threat and Vulnerability
Assessments (TVA) after the 9/11 terrorist attacks. These assessments were conducted through a
number of avenues, which included in-house efforts using the Department of Justice Threat and
Vulnerability Assessment (TVA) model , FTA (consulting contracts), State of Colorado
Department of Home Land Security (National Guard), and the Transportation Security
Administration’s Surface Transportation Security Inspectors.
As a result of the earlier success with the LRT Design Criteria Manual and the agency’s approval
of the safety and security design criteria, commuter rail and bus transit facilities Design Criteria
Manuals are now under development.
Reason for Proposed Solution
The primary reason for integrating safety and security design criteria in an initial project design
and/or procurement specification is to proactively address these requirements thereby including
them in an initial overall project budget. This could potentially save a transit agency hundreds of
thousands of dollars. In addition, this process can reduce the number of safety and/or security
related project construction and/or procurement change orders, thus preventing potential project
and procurement budget overrun.
RTD developed and implemented the LRT Design Criteria Manual initiative with the General
Manager and senior management support and approval. This task was accomplished through an
integrated approach that involved all staff sections of management as well as supervision of the
Executive Safety and Security Committee.
The LRT Design Criteria Manual revision and approval process in 2005 were challenging and
time consuming. RTD convened a group of subject matter experts from engineering,
construction, rail operations, bus operations, planning, facilities maintenance, scheduling, safety
and security. An orientation outlining the process, as well as the goals and objectives of the task
was presented to the participants to standardize the process. Each section of the manual was
assigned to a committee with a lead person responsible for the section revision. Once the
sections were initially revised a draft revision was submitted for review and comment. A
specific process was developed to allow all disciplines to provide comments, and for all
comments to be reviewed and discussed by the entire group for proper disposition of the
comments–a true systems approach. A final draft was then compiled and received a final review
by the senior management from rail operations, engineering, safety and security. The final
document was then approved by signature of senior management. Even though the process was
arduous, a 6-9 month process of meetings and 4 half day workshops, the end result was a
comprehensive document that was well accepted throughout the organization.
The newly-developed commuter rail and bus transit facilities Design Criteria Manuals were
developed in a similar, but not as comprehensive, fashion, primarily because much of the same
design criteria outlined in the LRT Design Criteria Manual carried over to the new manuals.
These two new documents are currently in the final review and approval stages.
Each Design Criteria manual has a section dedicated to system safety and system security.
However, the safety and security section does not capture all the safety and security design
criteria established in the manual. Specific system safety and security design criteria have been
integrated throughout sections that address landscaping, stations, operations facility, fare
collection equipment, and light rail vehicles, to mention a few. The system safety and system
security section of the LRT Design Manual establishes the foundation for safety and security
designs and detailed criteria are captured and integrated throughout the document.
The LRT Design Criteria Manual establishes basic criteria to be used in the design of new RTD
LRT systems. In addition, drafting standards, directive or sample drawings and management
procedures were prepared to standardize and guide the design activities and the preparation of
The safety and security design criteria that were included in revisions to the LRT Design Criteria
Manual addressed emergency access/egress, station design and walkways. The criteria require
the design to identify emergency access and egress locations and provide a list or matrix of the
necessary elements to be provided at each exit, such as lighting, signage, lock hardware,
intrusion detection, and other elements.
Evans Light Rail Station, one entrance/ Littleton Downtown Light Rail, non exit,
exit, in compliance with NFPA 130 multiple entrances, in compliance with
In addition, the criteria established the requirement for video surveillance equipment into
capital projects. The Design Manual requires that video surveillance systems be capable of
transmitting real-time (30 frames per second per camera) video to RTD’s Security
Command Center via a fiber optic transmission backbone. The manual requires all designs
to include system elements including communication houses, transmission infrastructure,
color cameras, and digital video recorders. The manual establishes that designs must
incorporate video surveillance covering station platforms, emergency telephones, elevator
waiting areas, stairwell entries, parking structures, pedestrian tunnels and pedestrian
Union Station, light rail with no video Littleton Light Rail Station with video
RTD Security Command System Console Boeing, Visual Security Operation Console
camera placements and coverage, Littleton/ (VSOC), 3-dimensional geographic
Mineral Park-and-Ride presentation
The LRT Design Criteria Manual also requires the placement of emergency telephones in
the design elements of capital projects. The manual requires that all emergency telephones
be consistent with existing RTD units and meet the performance requirements of RTD’s
existing emergency telephone network. Emergency telephones are required in designs for
all station platforms, elevator waiting areas, stairwell entries, parking structures, park-n-
rides, pedestrian bridges and tunnels.
Union Station, Light Rail
I-25 & Broadway Light Rail Station, Emergency phones being installed
no emergency telephones
The manual also addresses the design requirements for parking structures, as well as
underground and/or below grade transit facilities. Stairwell and elevator designs must
maximize the interior visibility of stairwells, elevators and elevator shafts. It also requires
that wall construction materials be transparent, such as glass, and must allow visibility
from at least three sides. For underground, enclosed and/or below grade facilities, it was
recognized that these present unique security challenges. The manual recognizes the
importance of maximizing patron safety and security through various counterterrorism
measures. Specifically, the design elements of these facilities must include the provision
of video surveillance in the perimeter areas, portals, entrances, exits, the interior of the
facilities and all fare vending locations.
University Park-and-Ride, T-Rex Project, Market Street Bus Terminal Entrance
elevators and stairs with no portal protection
RTD made a simple change top its new bus facility Design Criteria Manual that has proven to be
a significant cost savings. Due to a serious issue with acid etching, graffiti, glass replacement
and general maintenance with their glass panel bus shelters, they changed the design criteria to
have perforated metal sidings instead of glass and a curved shape roof line. These changes have
saved the agency roughly $150,000 in annual maintenance costs with a 3-4 year pay back benefit
with their current inventory of bus stop shelters. All new bus shelter procurements must now be
in compliance with the new design criteria.
RTD did not conduct a cost/benefit analysis on this design criteria initiative. However, RTD’s
success of integrating safety and security design criteria early in the project planning and design
phases and cost requirements included in the project budget will prove to be a significant long-
term cost savings to the agency.
Old design with glass panels One of many new design configure-
tions with perforated metal siding
Measure Effectiveness of Implementation/ Performance Indicators
RTD’s effectiveness in implementing this initiative has been proven by the continued support of
the General Manager and senior management. This includes the success experienced by the
agency’s staff and the Executive Safety and Security Committee accepting this process and
approving the RTD Design Criteria Manual. In addition, just the fact that the agency continues
to update the LRT Design Criteria Manual to remain in compliance with accepted practices and
applicable codes and develop new Design Criteria Manuals for upcoming capital improvement
projects proves that the implementation was successful and effective.
• The initiative of having Design Criteria Manuals with safety and security design criteria
must have senior management’s approval and support.
• An integrated, horizontal approach with the agency staff is imperative for developing a
comprehensive product such as the LRT Design Criteria Manual and the other Design
• A reasonable and practical approach is essential when developing the framework for
identifying specific safety and security design criteria. The difficult part of the process
is establishing the right balance between having the essential safety and security
requirements in accordance with codes and regulations verses having the latest
technology or capability.
• With the integration of design criteria early in the project, project budget constraints may
be a challenge. This can apply during design review and the project Value Engineering
process. The establishment of this process which approves changes and/or deviations at
the RTD Executive Safety and Security Committee level has proven extremely
important. This process not only controls changes but can initiate a compromise and/or
elevate an issue to the General Manager level for a final decision on project priorities
and design criteria changes.
• To ensure the Design Criteria Manual requirements are included in the projected project
costs, a design manual should be given to the engineers and architects as early as the
Alternative Analysis (AA) portion of the project system planning phase. This is the
phase where the initial foundation of the preliminary project budget forecast is
developed and a specific amount is allocated for security requirements.
• When new safety or security technologies are introduced for consideration, a detailed
analysis is needed to identify desired technological configurations, testing and
monitoring capabilities, training requirements, routine maintenance, management
responsibilities, and long term life cycle costs for sustainability reasons. This analysis
and findings are not only essential for the approval process, but once approved and in
place, it provides sustainable funding requirements that must be integrated into an
agency’s long range budget forecast cycles.
More information on the LRT Design Criteria Manual and specific fact sheets on LRT corridor
projects can be obtained through RTD’s website under “Light Rail” at www.rtd-denver.com/.