By Audra Streetman

DENVER (CBS4) – The Regional Transportation District is calling bus and rail operators back to work. General Manager and CEO Debra A. Johnson announced RTD is rescinding layoffs for full-time union employees.

(credit: CBS)

RTD is also working with the Amalgamated Transit Union Local 1001 to bring back 137 part-time operators. Officials say the decision was made possible by funding from the new COVID-19 relief package.

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On Jan. 11, the Federal Transit Administration notified RTD that it would receive about $203.4 million through the Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act of 2021. RTD mailed letters to the employees on Jan. 14 notifying them of the change. Employees must complete drug and alcohol testing before they can return to work, according to officials.

Debra Johnson (credit: RTD)

“We endeavor to have people back in their seats as quickly as possible,” Johnson said. “At the outset, we would say early next week, contingent upon the testing process.”

Due to financial shortfalls during the pandemic, the RTD Board of Directors approved budget and staff cuts in November. Operators were notified of the layoffs in December along with additional union and salaried staff in January.

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“Over the last month, RTD rescinded some of the operator layoffs as other operators left through attrition, which happens naturally throughout the year,” stated RTD officials in a news release. “The staffing reductions included 309 represented employees and 90 salaried employees.”

Officials say there are currently no plans to rescind layoffs for salaried staff. Those positions were eliminated as part of RTD’s COVID-19 service plan, which accounts for decreased ridership as a result of the pandemic.

“We are looking at service adjustments,” Johnson told employees. “Rest assured that we are going to have people readily available to deliver transit services to those that most need it.”

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Audra Streetman