Several Cities Nationwide Also Facing Operator Shortage WoesBy Kati Weis

DENVER (CBS4) – Frustrations continue to boil among riders of the Regional Transportation District’s buses and light rails. Friday, more than 60 light rail trips were cancelled due to an ongoing operator shortage problem.

Those daily delays have many riders wondering if they’ll be eligible for refunds.

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An RTD train operator makes a stop at the I-25 and Broadway Station in Denver. (credit: Kati Weis, CBS4)

But despite consistent inconveniences to riders, RTD said it does not typically offer refunds.

“Almost every day, there’s cancellations on the lines that I take,” explained Aaron Ball, a daily light rail commuter. “It’s not great service.”

Aaron Ball, of Denver, rides the light rail home from work.

Aaron Ball, of Denver, rides the light rail home from work. (credit: CBS)

Ball said RTD did give him a $2.80 refund after several trains supposed to take him to work never showed.

“I called RTD and said, ‘I’m going to miss a meeting, because of this, and do you guys do refunds,’ and the lady said, ‘let me check with my manager,’ and it took the rest of the day, but it did show up,” Ball said. “I got the refund, it’s there, the $2.80 fare is on my card.”

Wednesday night, however, he faced a similar situation trying to commute home, but received a much different response.

rtd light rail bus train service

(credit: CBS)

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“They said, ‘we don’t really do refunds on tickets,’” Ball said. “For RTD to say we don’t do refunds on tickets, it’s like, well, run your trains on time.”

Asked about refunds, RTD Spokesperson Tina Jaquez said, “we’re not looking at any kind of refunds, we’re asking for people to… sign up for rider alerts and follow us on Twitter and then you can be kept up to speed on cancellations.”

RTD isn’t the only public transit system struggling with a shortage of operators. Several cities across the country are battling the same problem, including Minneapolis and St. Louis.

(Credit: CBS)

Minneapolis is short 90 drivers, and St. Louis is short 50, according to officials associated with those transit systems.

Last month, St. Louis had to cut service to compensate.

“This is something transit agencies like ours are facing,” explained Jessica Mefford-Miller, Executive Director of St. Louis Metro Transit. “But what we did on September 30 was an entire redesign of our bus network, to focus those big buses and full-time operators on the corridors, while operating more limited service in lower demand markets.”

RTD is working on a proposal of its own to cut service to ease demands on overworked drivers and create a more reliable schedule for riders.

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Kati Weis