By Andrea Flores

DENVER (CBS4) – RTD is the latest agency staring at a huge budget hole do to the coronavirus pandemic. The projected shortfall for next year is $166 million, and RTD is proposing to cut hundreds of jobs to save money.

“Twenty-one years, I basically invested my life,” said Ronald Short, a RTD bus driver and Vice President for Amalgamated Transit Union Local 1001.

Short says his phone has been ringing off the hook since RTD announced a proposal of 635 job cuts to the RTD board.

“I’ve had members call me and ask me personally, ‘Should I look for another job?’ and that hurts,” Short said. “I am surprised they would question the viability of our front-line workers, the people that have been out here from day one, on these buses, taking a risk, and still making the city move.”

(credit: CBS)

Short says union members were blindsided by the RTD announcement.

“We found out through sources, other than RTD directly,” Short told CBS4’s Andrea Flores. “If you care about your employees you would’ve been more forthcoming.”

RTD Spokesperson Pauletta Tonilas says the proposal was carefully made after months of consideration.

“Currently we are carrying about 40 percent of the riders we did before COVID-19. We are operating about 60 percent of the service we did before COVID-19, but we are still employing about 100 percent of the staff,” said Tonilas. “We’re having to make some budget and staffing adjustments to what we’re projecting is going to be about a $166 million deficit for 2021.”

RTD says part-time and full-time positions could be cut, including union and salary employees. Short believes the cuts will impact RTD riders.

“Without front-line workers, there is no service,” Short said. “We are a part of the of community, and we expect to serve the community, but we can’t serve the community if RTD is tying our hands.”

The RTD Board is expected to go over the proposal on Tuesday. From there, RTD says they will move forward with making plans to implement changes by 2021.

Andrea Flores

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