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Staffing issues at RTD lead to canceled A-Line trips

The University of Colorado A-Line was forced to cancel 48 trips in one weekend because of staffing problems.

DENVER — Recent staffing issues for the Regional Transportation District's (RTD) University of Colorado A-Line have caused cancellations of trips, leaving travelers waiting at Denver International Airport (DIA) for hours.

9NEWS has discovered that the train fell short of its scheduled trips more than 1,500 times since January 2022, according to data provided by RTD. 

Since January, 1,548 A-Line trips have been canceled, according to data from RTD. About 80% of those cancelations – 1,290 in total – happened because there wasn't a second crew member available to be on the train.

One reason for this is that the A-Line requires two people to be on board the train during a trip. One of these people needs to be an armed guard, according to RTD.

"Commuter rail, unlike light rail, has longer distances between stations and often in many locations, there are long bridges," RTD said in a statement. "If customers need to be evacuated, that second crew member could help safely get customers off the train. Commuter rail carries more people too so it’s useful to have another qualified person to assist in emergencies. During normal commutes, they provide customer service by answering questions and they also check fares."

RELATED: RTD reduces A Line frequency Wednesday due to strong winds

Between Aug. 1, 2021 and Dec. 31, 2021, the A-Line had 22,118 scheduled trips, and 243 of those were canceled due to no second crew member, RTD said.

The company that provides the security, Allied Universal, said they are having a difficult time filling those positions. RTD has about 300 Allied Universal employees under contract but only about 30 of them are armed guards who can be second crewmembers on commuter trains.

"The positions most difficult to fill are openings for armed guards," an Allied United spokesperson told 9NEWS. "This is a critical safety position with stringent requirements, making the available qualified applicant pool significantly small and highly competitive. Allied Universal competes with police departments and other agencies for the limited candidates that meet these requirements and are interested in working in an armed position."

Allied Universal was fined $153,000 last year for not supplying enough staff, according to RTD.

"Even though they are the required company to put that position in, we try to fill that or shuffle people around so maybe we don't drop two trips in a row but there are times when we are just not able to do that," said Tina Jaquez with RTD. "So we have to cancel a trip."

Staffing from Allied Universal isn't the only issue RTD has with staffing the A-Line. The transportation district is also seeing a shortage of bus drivers, train operators and mechanics, according to RTD.

Lance Longenbohn, president at Amalgamated Transit Union Local 1001, said "the biggest frustration is just not having a reliable means of transportation. The public is just weary of RTD and its struggles overall to address manpower issues."

RTD said its contract with Allied Universal is up at the end of June and is working to renew its agreement.

RELATED: DIA, RTD drop face mask rules

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