Bus driver shortage hurts D.C. region’s ability to return to pre-pandemic transit service levels

Bus-driver shortage hurts D.C. region’s ability to return to pre-pandemic transit service levels

11/28/2021 9:26:00 AM

Bus-driver shortage hurts D.C. region’s ability to return to pre-pandemic transit service levels

The staffing problem, a reflection of a national labor shortage, could escalate as more people resume normal routines and commutes in the new year.

Story continues below advertisementPam Boswell, vice president of workforce development at the American Public Transportation Association, said transit agencies are rethinking their service levelsas they grapple with staffing challenges, and looking at how to be more flexible in meeting the needs of riders. In the long term, operators will need to identify different talent pools to attract transit workers, she said.

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Advertisement“Our industry is going to have to really continue to be innovative,” she said. “We’re seeing community colleges and tech schools and vocational schools being strong partners with many of our agencies across the country. And it’s been very successful because the students are coming out of the local area.”

Metro to make bus boarding possible at all doors, aiming to speed up serviceWhile transit agencies in the Washington area have not reduced operations, some systems say expanding or returning to pre-pandemic schedules could be a challenge as they struggle to attract and retain workers with commercial driver’s licenses and experience in transit. headtopics.com

Story continues below advertisement“Many of those challenges are due to increased compensation and entrance salaries, bonuses and incentives offered by private-sector companies, which make for a more competitive market in the local government sector,” said Paulette Jones, spokeswoman for the Prince George’s County Department of Public Works and Transportation. The agency is also competing to hire commercial licensed drivers for its highway-maintenance operations.

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AdvertisementMetrobus, which is operating at 97 percent of pre-pandemic levels, has been mostly spared. Metro has 2,369 full-time bus operators out of the 2,440 needed to meet its December schedule, agency spokeswoman Sherri Ly said.The system is still recruiting bus operators to account for retirements and employees who leave or move to other positions within Metro, Ly said.

Story continues below advertisementMetro’s benefits and wages are the most competitive for transit workers in the region, making it a drawfor experienced drivers. Drivers from smaller bus systems often move on to Metro.Raymond Jackson, president of the Amalgamated Transit Union Local 689, which represents workers at Metrobus, D.C. Circulator, Fairfax Connector, Alexandria’s DASH, Loudoun County Transit and MetroAccess, said compensation for transit positions at some local systems is not competitive enough in an economic environment where people with commercial licenses are in high demand.

Advertisement“We are having a problem, but I really don’t think the problem is the driver shortage. I think that the problem is the wage shortage,” he said. “Blue-collar workers in this country have had enough and that’s what we are seeing. We just want fair wages and fair benefits. That’s all we’re asking for.” headtopics.com

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Returning to offices, rethinking commutesSome smaller bus systems, including D.C. Circulator and Fairfax Connector, are funded by local governments but operated by private transit companies that historically have offered lower wages and few or no retirement benefits. Montgomery’s Ride On is operated by the county transportation department and DASH is operated by the Alexandria Transit Co., which is owned by the city.

Story continues below advertisementBus drivers start at $18.54 an hour at D.C. Circulator, $20.29 at Fairfax Connector and $21.96 at DASH, according to the union. Metrobus drivers start at $20 during training and $25.51 after graduating from its training program.

Advertisement“Metro is able to bring those people in with those good wages and benefits,” said Brian Wivell, political director at ATU Local 689.In the District, D.C. Circulator has 27 full-time and five part-time driver positions open — roughly 15 percent of the level required to staff the system.

The District Department of Transportation (DDOT), which funds the Circulator, attributed the shortage to terminations and resignations during the pandemic. DDOT said Circulator recruited during the pandemic when other transportation providers laid off operators, but now it’s more difficult because those systems headtopics.com

are hiring again.Story continues below advertisement“The driver shortage does impact the ability to meet D.C. Circulator’s existing service requirements and may affect future considerations for increased service levels and/or expansions,” DDOT said in a statement. Its transit contractor, RATP Dev, is relying on overtime to address service gaps, the department said.

Federal pilot program would open long-distance trucking to 18-year-oldsOfficials with RATP Dev, which also runs service for Prince George’s TheBus and three dozen other transit operations in the United States, said they are prioritizing recruiting in the Washington region, while offering a sign-on bonus

to lure workers. Melissa Ferrer-Smith, chief people officer at RATP Dev USA, said the shortage is a big concern in some markets — including Washington — and has affected operations, but shedeclined to elaborate.AdvertisementIn Prince George’s, TheBus is about 12 drivers down from optimal staffing levels, said Jones, from the Department of Public Works and Transportation. The system is also in need of mechanics.

Story continues below advertisementAcross the Potomac River, Fairfax Connector has about 4 percent of driver positions open, spokeswoman Robin Geiger said. The region’s third-largest bus system restored pre-pandemic levels more than a year ago, she said, adding that the system’s ability to successfully recruit “will be an important determining factor for future transit-service expansions.”

No bus driver? Schools are paying parents to drive their own kids as economic disruptions hit classrooms.Transit officials say they are stepping up recruitment efforts, while weighing wage increases and other incentives. Montgomery County this fall used a social media and email campaign to advertise its transit jobs and is gearing up for interior bus signs on nearly 400 buses, with exterior ads on up to 100, as well as radio commercials.

AdvertisementApplicants have to be at least 21 and don’t need a commercial driver’s license because the county will pay for training. The starting annual salary is $42,000 and goes to about $69,000, with a competitive benefits package, the county said.

Montgomery’s bus system has 631 drivers, down 50 from before the pandemic and below the 705 operators for which the agency budgeted. With all routes and programs running, the system needs to boost staffing levels to resume pre-pandemic bus frequencies. The agency hopes to be at full service in early 2022.

“We are upping our recruitment and training activities to try to get more folks on staff to be able to deliver the schedule,” said Conklin, the country transportation director.Transportation, infrastructure and the pandemic

Read more: The Washington Post »

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There is no labor shortage in America!! This is gaslighting to justify illegal immigration. Increase the wages and there will be no more shortage Totally unsafe to provide or use public transportation ever again amidst predatory spit spraying criminals giving 2 you what they got while acting erratic unsafe unhealthy spitspraying in Eyes

How can you have a staffing shorting when the president states that unemployment is at it's lowest in years. Did you suddenly add hundreds of busses? Is this article fake news(a lie), or is the president lying. SOMEONE IS LYING. Do the math

At least 19 dead, 32 injured after bus crash in MexicoHow awful. Sincerest condolences. Sounds like business as usual... Have you ever seen them drive?... 'Nuff said!!! ... If you have ever been on a bus in Mexico you would not be suprised it crashed. They drive insane.

Bus crash kills scores in MexicoAt least 19 people were killed and over 20 are injured after a passenger bus traveling on a highway crashed into a house in Mexico

19 Dead, Dozens Injured After Mexico Pilgrimage Bus CrashState officials said the bus was heading to Chalma when it apparently lost its brakes and slammed into a building. 예수그리스도 보혈은 권능이 큽니다 RevivalTidalWaves 쓰나미같은_부흥의_파도 I was told that every achievement begins with the decision to try, ignorance destroys so many opportunities I'm a victim but I was convince by the right person Mrs Nichelle_1111

19 Dead, 32 Injured After Mexico Pilgrimage Bus CrashNineteen people died and 32 more were injured after a bus apparently carrying pilgrims to a religious site in central Mexico crashed on Friday. 😢🙏🏾🕊️ 😓🙏🏼

Gunman opens fire aboard bus in Michigan, hitting passengers after Thanksgiving holidayKalamazoo police responded to the 'active shooter situation' at a bus station Saturday morning.

19 dead, 20 injured in Mexico pilgrimage bus crash | AP NewsMEXICO CITY (AP) — Nineteen people died and 20 more were injured after a bus apparently carrying pilgrims to a religious site in central Mexico crashed on Friday. Ricardo de la Cruz, an assitant interior secretary in the State of Mexico, said the accident occurred in the township of Joquicingo, southwest of Mexico City. Are they up in Heaven looking down on us? All that prayer didn’t help?