RTD warning of cuts to service as operator shortage continues

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DENVER -- It's another frustrating start to the work week for people who rely on RTD. Around 100 trips were canceled on Monday, caused by operator shortages.

"This is pretty typical. Fridays and Mondays are a little bit worse for us," explained RTD Spokesperson Tina Jaquez.

Hundreds of people arrived to work late. Others experienced delays headed home. Jerry Widener was one of them. Widener uses RTD to commute to work six days a week.

"I'm at my wits end, extremely angry," Widener said. "The train is almost never on time. It's to the point I have a couple of friends who were commuting and they've just started driving."

Hundreds of bus and light rail routes have been canceled in recent weeks. It's become enough of a problem RTD is considering a temporary elimination of some routes until more operators and drivers can be hired.

"That means probably less frequent service. So, rather than a 15 minute frequency, maybe a half hour frequency on something," Jaquez explained.

"My fear is they're just going to make them permanent," said Widener.

Most light rail operators were hesitant to speak with the FOX31 Problem Solvers on camera, but many tell us there are several things to blame for the operator shortage. Many say operators are underpaid and forced to work 60 to 70 work weeks.

Most operators also work a mandated six-day work week.

Ken Thomson is a truck driver who has looked into working for RTD after he retires from his current job.

"It's not an attractive program to get in. I just couldn't do it, at least I couldn't leave my job right now. If I left now it would be right at a $27,000 cut a year," he said.

RTD tells the Problem Solvers that 97 percent of its routes are still covered. They also say a new class of recruits just began their 11 week training program.

The idea of temporary cuts to service will be discussed at an RTD board meeting on Thursday night.

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