BNSF lays off workers in Glendive, Topeka

News Wire Digest second section for May 7: SMART considers end to weekend service, major weekday cuts; Austin, Texas, adds new line to light rail plans
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More Thursday morning rail news:

— BNSF Railway will close its Glendive, Mont., diesel shop and is also laying off workers in Topeka, Kan. KXGN-TV is reporting that, in a letter to employees, BNSF’s Gary Grissum, vice president of mechanical, told affected shop employees in a letter that the closure reflected the current business environment with the decline of crude oil and coal shipments. No estimate of the number of employees affected was reported. WIBW-TV reports 28 mechanical-department workers are being laid off in Topeka, and quotes BNSF spokesman Andy Williams says saying those layoffs stem from “changing business conditions and projected lower demand for railcars to ship commodities.”

— Sonoma-Marin Area Rail Transit could end weekend service or cut weekday service by 40% as it mulls options for $6 million in budget cuts. The Santa Rosa Press-Democrat reports that cuts, brought on by the March failure of a ballot initiative extending its sales-tax funding as well as the coronavirus pandemic, could mean eliminating the 10 trips on weekends or cutting weekday operation from 38 trips to 22. Cutting weekend trips would mean layoffs of 14 full-time employees and save an estimated $1.6 million annually; the weekday cuts would save $3.2 million a year and lead to 31 layoffs.

— Austin, Texas, transit agency Capital Metro is proposing a significant change to its “Project Connect” transit expansion plan, suggesting the Gold Line it previously envisoned as a bus rapid transit route should instead be light rail. The Austin Monitor reports that a memo from Capital Metro CEO Randy Clark and Austin Assistant City Manager Gina Fiandaca to city government and the transit agency’s board cites demographic modeling which indicates population growth along the Gold Line will require the additional capacity available from light rail. In its most recent update, the Project Connect plan added a proposal for 1.6 miles of subway in downtown Austin [see “News Wire Digest for Monday, March 9"].



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