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RTD explains how service cuts will help reduce need for operators

After announcing proposed service reductions Thursday, RTD explained how this will help with their current operator shortage issue.

DENVER — Thursday, the Regional Transportation District (RTD) announced its plan to reduce service to both bus and rail services. The transportation agency said they hope this will help tackle their ongoing operator shortage. 

The proposed service reduction is part of a plan to help the system during its significant driver and operator shortages.

RTD said they are down about 60 rail operators and about 80 bus drivers, despite extensive recruitment measures in recent years. Currently, RTD mandates six-day workweeks for many of its employees running the buses and trains, paying more than $1 million in overtime each month, according to a spokeswoman. Yet, RTD still drops services on a daily basis, usually on the light rail.

RELATED: RTD service cuts: A look at the bus and light rail lines affected

RTD is proposing service reductions to 19 of its bus routes, the agency announced Thursday, and eliminating six routes all together: the 16L on West Colfax, the 55 in Arvada, the 99L (Federal Center/South Kipling), the 157 (Community College of Aurora and Buckley Air Force Base), the 236 in Boulder and the 403 on Lucent Boulevard. 

Weekend service on the D Line would be axed, Saturday service on the H Line would be reduced, and weekday service on the R Line would be scaled back to every 30 minutes.

This proposal would also slow down frequency along the free bus on the 16th Street mall - making it available every 3 minutes during peak time - as opposed to every 90 seconds - meaning they'll need 7 fewer operators.

"It's for lack of a better word a sweet spot that needs to be maintained at this point," said RTD's COO Michael Ford. "It's not that most operators don't want over time - but they'd rather be in control of it."

Ford said this would begin to get the agency there - though he admits - mandating over time would still happen even with these cuts.

But just getting making the problem public may be helping.

RTD said they've had a ton of applicants, ut just takes time to get them on board.

"Then it's them meeting criteria, us getting them into training, we can only train so many people," Ford said.

RELATED: RTD not alone in transit shortages

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