DENVER — Dave Genova, the general manager and CEO of the Regional Transportation District (RTD), announced his “voluntary retirement” late Friday afternoon after nearly 26 years with the public transportation agency.

“It has been a privilege to serve the Board, our incredible team of employees and our community," Genova said in an RTD news release about the announcement. "I am confident that our very capable leadership team will continue to guide the agency in our mission to serve the traveling public.”

Genova notified RTD Board of Directors Chair Doug Tisdale of his retirement in a letter on Thursday night – the same night RTD shared the results of a two-week public survey, in which people said they would prefer temporary service cuts over the current unreliable service caused by an operator shortage.

At a media briefing just before the meeting, 9NEWS reporter Marc Sallinger asked Genova if he has ever been asked to resign, or if he has ever considered leaving because of agency missteps in his years as CEO.

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“I can tell you no one’s asked me for my resignation,” Genova said. “I look at my future like anybody else when I think about careers, potential and opportunities.”

In his tenure, Genova oversaw the opening of the University of Colorado A Line, the commuter rail line that runs between downtown Denver and Denver International Airport. The train had been plagued with concerns from the start, including complaints about train horns and timing issues with crossing gates that delayed federal and state approvals.

He also supervised the delayed opening of the A Line’s sister train, the G Line, which runs from Denver to Arvada and Westminster.

Under Genova's leadership, RTD also expanded light rail further south to Ridgegate Parkway, and added an all-new line to Aurora. Though, that came trouble. Ridership numbers were lower than expected, leading the agency to cut service almost immediately and prompting a public fight between then Aurora Mayor Steve Hogan and RTD.

"You’d have to be a magician to fix some of these things," RTD Board member Natalie Menten told Next with Kyle Clark. "I feel like we're in a pit."

Menten, who's been highly critical of the agency she oversees, said she doesn't have a preference on whether RTD goes with an internal or external candidate. But she does want that person to be realistic about the state of RTD.

“I don’t want false promises. I don’t want sugar-coating," she said. "They’re going to have to have thick skin and brutal honesty."

Genova's letter to Tisdale said his last day with RTD will be Jan. 20, 2020, and the announcement said he is committed to a smooth transition.

Genova’s most recent contract began at the start of 2019 and was set to run through Dec. 31, 2023, with auto-renewals scheduled through Dec. 31, 2025. He made a $295,000 salary annually with a 1.5% raise every January.

The contract specified that if Genova left, he would be paid for unused vacation and sick time, and any earned but unpaid base salary.

If he’d been fired, he would have received one year’s severance.

Tisdale has not responded to Next's requests for comment.

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