RTD short 68 operators, moving forward with service cuts

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DENVER — RTD is moving forward with plans to eliminate certain bus routes, and reduce the frequency of light rail lines, as it looks to solve an operator shortage.

District H Director Doug Tisdale spoke with FOX31’s Evan Kruegel at a transportation town hall Saturday, saying the issue is complex and tough to solve.

“Operator shortage is one thing where people have said RTD is obviously not doing a good job,” he said. “That’s why I have to point out, the issue is going on in New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, St. Louis, and elsewhere around the world.”

Tisdale says the problem stems from mandated 6 day work weeks. Operators are also often required to work split shifts to accommodate heavy ridership traffic in the mornings and evenings.

Tisdale says operators can often make $35/hour with overtime, but the hours and schedule are leading many to quit. He says that puts RTD in a bind, where a reduction in hours and overtime would lead to a reduction in service. Numbers show RTD needs 218 operators to run its full schedule, with only 148 employed right now.

“We cannot stop the mandating overtime cold turkey, because once we do that, we’ve said alright we’re cutting all of this service,” says Tisdale.

State Representative Meg Froelich, who organized the town hall along with State Representative Tom Sullivan, says transportation is one of the biggest issues she hears from her constituents.

“Perhaps folks have a little more understanding that lessens their anger, but that still doesn’t help them when they’re trying to get to work,” she says. “I am happy that RTD is addressing all those things. I hope it happens sooner rather than later.”

Plans for the RTD cuts are posted monthly on the RTD website.

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