An RTD Light Rail train arrives at Dry Creek station in May 2016.

(Hart Van Denburg/CPR News)

Posted 3/8 | Updated 3/12

Some 1,700 Regional Transportation District employees, including most of the agency’s bus drivers and train operators, are in line for a sizable pay bump.

Amalgamated Transit Union 1001 officials say they’ve reached a tentative three-year agreement with RTD that would increase wages by 8 percent across the board this year. So the starting wage for bus drivers and train operators could soon more than $19 an hour. Two additional 3 percent increases will kick in in 2019 and 2020. 

Union members gave their approval to the deal over the weekend. 

"Pretty much all the things our members told us were important to them are now incorporated in this contract,” said Bill Jones, staff attorney for the ATU 1001.

In addition to the pay increase, the contract includes guaranteed bathroom and rest breaks and a pledge from RTD to contribute more to the employee pension fund. The union argues working conditions are one reason there’s been a notable increase in the number of mistakes made by light rail operators in recent years.

Jones expects the new deal will also address RTD’s recent struggle to recruit and retain drivers, which has led to service reductions.

“That is certainly our hope,” Jones said. “And I think that's RTD's hope and why they agreed to a higher level of wages.”

RTD spokesman Scott Reed said hiring and retention was a key part of the negotiations. "We're very pleased the rank and file voted to accept this contract offer," Reed said Monday.

An RTD board committee will discuss the contract Tuesday, and the full board will vote on it later this month.

Editor's Note: An earlier version of this story incorrectly stated the proposed wage increase. Starting wages for bus and train operators would go to more than $19 an hour as soon as the contract goes into effect.