16th Street and Larimer in Denver Colorado at night RTD bus MallRide

An RTD MallRide bus on the 16th Street Mall in downtown Denver.

Approximately 60% of people who responded to a Regional Transportation District survey said that they preferred temporary service cuts to the status quo.

RTD’s “Your Voice Matters” poll, which people could access online between Nov. 4 and 17, asked respondents to choose between maintaining current service levels — with on-time performance and reliability [that] would vary each day” — or reductions in service, which would “offer riders greater reliability and on-time performance.”

The agency said that 13,000 people responded to the survey. An additional 5,000 people called into a telephone town hall meeting. RTD presented the results to its Board of Directors on Thursday evening.

RTD is experiencing a shortage of bus and light rail operators, the effect of which has been to suddenly drop runs and to mandate that employees work overtime. More than two-thirds of bus operators and over 40% of light rail operators have been so directed.

RTD said that with the Denver area’s low unemployment rate, it is difficult to recruit staff. Thirty percent of light rail operator jobs were unfilled this past week.

The agency reported that 170 operators gave their input on the staffing situation. While there were some employees who were willing to work six-day weeks, others said that mandated overtime had affected their “relationships, mental and physical health, and overall quality of life.”

CPR reported that at Thursday’s board meeting, RTD’s chief operating officer acknowledged that temporary cuts to service might not be restored on all routes after the staffing crisis has passed.

If we have a low-performing route, why would we bring it back?” pointed out Director Natalie Menten.

(1) comment

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It is critical to our understanding of this issue whether the survey respondents were all confirmed riders or not. Data consistently shows that most people who advocate for public transportation never use public transportation.

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