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Around the Country, Cities Face Bus Driver Shortages

Cities like St. Louis, Denver, and Minneapolis have have fewer bus drivers than the transit system requires. The shortages are effecting the quality of service.
September 3, 2019, 11am PDT | Casey Brazeal | @northandclark
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Gerard Donnelly

Around the United States, cities are having trouble hiring the bus drivers they need to keep systems running. Last week, St. Louis's bus service was so understaffed, buses couldn't make trips.   "MetroLink, which runs St. Louis’s 83 bus routes and 46 miles of light rail, blamed an “unusually high number of operators calling off work” that Monday. Transit union leaders said Metro simply hasn’t hired enough workers to run its system," Aaron Short writes.

Whether the issue was the fault of the agency or its drivers, it's clear that not having enough drivers is a problem in many communities. "Thanks to the labor shortage, bus service has been struggling in Denver, San Francisco, Miami, Omaha, Nebraska, Minneapolis, Toledo, OH, and northern New Jersey, drivers and union leaders told Streetsblog," Short writes. There are 188 unfilled positions for bus and rail in Denver alone.

Many who would drive say they can’t afford to live in the cities they drive for because the rent is too high. The Denver bus service and San Francisco's Muni have both dealt with this issue. "With housing out of their price range, a lot of drivers work six to seven days a week and live 90 minutes to two hours away in places like Sacramento, Modesto, Stockton, and Patterson. Some even drive part-time for ride hail companies to supplement their income," Short writes.

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Published on Tuesday, August 27, 2019 in Streetsblog USA
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