Digest: DC Metro approves budget with buyouts, service cuts

News Wire Digest for Nov. 20: Union officials blast proposed MTA budget; Denver RTD approves budget calling for 399 layoffs
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Friday morning rail transit and budget news:

DC Metro approves budget with service cuts, buyout plan
The Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority board unanimously approved service cuts and a buyout plan intended to reduce layoffs as part of a budget addressing $176 million shortfall as a result of COVID-19. The Washington Post reports the agency will offer $15,000 bonuses to retirement-eligible employees as part of an effort to eliminate 1,400 jobs — down from the original target of 1,700. Other cost-cutting moves will include less frequent weekday rail service and reinstatement of fare collection on buses, which have been free since spring 2020 to protect drivers from exposure to the virus. WRC-TV reports Red Line trains will run every six minutes on weekdays and every 12 minutes on weekends; other lines will run at 12-minute intervals on weekdays and 15 minutes on weekends.

Union leaders rip layoff plans in proposed MTA budget
The president of the Transport Workers Union of America says “all hell will break loose” if New York’s Metropolitan Transportation Authority adopts a proposed budget that would lay off more than 9,300 workers, 8,238 of them from New York City Transit. A report in the Chief-Leader, a New York newspaper focused on municipal government and its workers, says union president John Samuelsen promises to coordinate “a fight-back strategy engaging all of the unions across the system.” Transport Worker Union Local 100 President Tony Utano called the proposed cuts “a slap in the face of every transit worker” and called for the MTA to withdraw the plan “and come up with real solutions.” The layoffs, along with a 50% cut in commuter rail service and a 40% cut to subway service, are part of the budget the MTA says it will have to adapt because of COVID-19 revenue losses unless it receives $12 billion in federal aid [see “Digest: New York MTA budget cuts …,” Trains News Wire, Nov. 18, 2020].

Denver RTD will cut 399 jobs as part of 2021 budget
Denver’s Regional Transportation District has approved a $1.2 billion budget — a decrease of $140 million from the current figure — that calls layoffs of 399 employees, elimination of 300 currently vacant positions, and salary cuts for higher-wage non-union workers. The $629 million operating budget is down 14% from the 2020 figure, KCNC-TV reports.

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