Digest: Denver RTD says budget, workforce cuts are coming

News Wire Digest for Sept. 9: Montreal airport seeks funding for light rail station; Saskatoon will consider grade-crossing separation projects
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A Denver RTD light rail train approaches the University of Denver station in September 2018. The RTD's CEO said budget cuts and workforce reductions are coming because of a COVID-19-related funding shortfall.
TRAINS: David Lassen

Wednesday morning rail news:

Denver RTD tells workers to prepare for budget, staffing cuts

Denver’s Regional Transportation District will cut its budget and eliminate jobs to address a funding shortfall estimated at $166 million in 2021, CEO Paul Ballard told employees in a Tuesday memo. While final details are still to be determined, the agency is estimating it will cut 25% to 30% of its budgeted positions, which would include 635 current full- and part-time positions as well as positions that are currently vacant. Other potential moves to be presented to the RTD board of directs at a Sept. 15 minute include deferral of $115 million in capital and maintenance projects, a salary freeze, and tiered furlough days ranging from no such days for  employees with the lowest salaries to up to 18 days for the highest wage earners. The RTD said it is carrying about 40% of pre-COVID-19 passengers and providing service at 60% of pre-coronavirus levels, while still employing 100% of its workforce.

Montreal airport operator seeks federal, provincial help to fund light rail station
The operator of Montreal’s Trudeau International Airport is in discussions with Canada’s federal government to find funding for an airport station for the Montreal region’s new light rail system. The Montreal Gazette reports that Economic Development Minister Mélanie Joly told a Tuesday news conference, “It goes without saying” that the Réseau express métropolitian light rail system will have an airport station: “It’s important that we can have a network in place that allows passengers to reac downtown from the airport. This was part of the goals of the REM.” Operator Aeroports de Montreal was privately financing the station, but in light of anticipated losses because of COVID-19, is now seeking a $500 million loan from the federal and Quebec governments for the $600 million project.

Saskatoon to examine grade-crossing separation options
After a city proposal for a joint main line was shot down by Canadian National and Canadian Pacific, city officials in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, will look at building overpasses and underpasses to address grade-crossing issues along CP’s main line through downtown. The Saskatoon Star Phoenix reports city councilor Hilary Gough has asked the city to look at a case-by-case basis at possible grade crossing solutions. A two-year-old study placed the price of grade-crossing separation at more than a dozen intersections at $374, which at the time was deemed financially unviable. City officials had hoped to reroute CP out of downtown onto CN’s main line, but both railroads said that was unworkable [see “Digest: CP, CN shoot down Saskatoon’s concept …,” Sept. 4, 2020].



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