By Karen Morfitt

DENVER (CBS4) – After years of struggling to combat an operator shortage, RTD is considering a cut to service.

Ej Katsoulas uses both rail and bus to get work.

“I commute for about an hour a day. I drive from pretty far down south in Highlands Ranch part of the way and then I’ll catch the train part of the way and then I’ll transfer to the bus part of the way,” he said.

Hearing a change to service could be coming is certainly not what he wanted to hear.

“For it to come to that is kind of sad and I hope it doesn’t, because it would be really hard to find an alternative,” he said.

RTD spokeswoman Pauletta Tonilas says with the current shortage of operators, they are struggling to provide reliable service.

“We’re having to drop trips almost every day. This is not a situation we want to be in,” she said.

Tonilas says the workforce isn’t there to fill those open jobs.

“With a strong economy and a low employment rate, we have people who don’t want these jobs. Then we get them in the door and when we have to mandate six days a week — they aren’t staying,” she said.

According to a memo sent to RTD’s board of directors, on average nearly 70% of all of their bus drivers and 41% of light rail operators are working six days a week.

Angela Williams, who works with the operator’s union, says those long hours are only part of the problem.

“We don’t make enough money to live within the city of Denver,” she said. “We have runs that don’t give enough time to go to the bathroom.”

RTD is hopeful the reduction in service will not only benefit passengers but improve conditions for operators as well.

“It’s a lighter load for our operators and then we don’t have to push people as much to have to work those six days a week and to have to meet critical timing frames where it’s tough for them to take breaks,” Tonilas said.

But for those who plan their day with the RTD services in mind, it’s a disappointing decision.

RTD says cutting service is only a proposal and they do not have any specific changes in mind. They say it would likely start with changes to their least popular routes and would only be temporary. The Regional Transportation District Board will decide on how to move forward at their meeting on Tuesday Oct. 22.

Karen Morfitt


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