Transit agencies have been experiencing driver shortages for years, as articles dating back to 2018 and earlier indicate.
But the COVID-19 pandemic hasn’t made it any easier for transit agencies to recruit and retain qualified drivers. Just last week, Mass Transit reported missed trips due to an MTA driver shortage on Staten Island. The union attributes the shortage to eligible drivers opting to retire early due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The shortage has been worsened by quarantine protocol for remaining staff members who have been potentially exposed to the virus.
Driver shortages directly impact the level of service an agency is able to provide its customers. Read on to see how some agencies have been impacted.
According to the MTA, Staten Island service delivery, or the percent of scheduled trips actually completed, declined to 92% in April 2021, compared to 98% in April 2019.
Dayton RTA’s driver shortage has led the agency to cut routes because they can’t adequately staff them.
Hampton Roads Transit is offering $1,000 signing bonuses for bus drivers and $2,000 for mechanics to fill the operator shortage that is leading to missed stops along routes.
As many agencies ramp up service to pre-pandemic levels, even more drivers are needed to meet increasing service demands. Is the labour market pliable enough to accommodate and react to this impending increase in demand?