SEPTA’s Strategy for Easing Its Staffing Shortage

The agency is taking multiple steps to recruit and retain more transit operators, but it likely won’t be enough to prevent the agency from having to cut service on some of its bus lines.

1 minute read

April 6, 2023, 6:00 AM PDT

By Diana Ionescu @aworkoffiction

Like more than 90 percent of U.S. transit agencies, the Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority (SEPTA) is facing a lingering operator shortage. Writing for WHYY, Jordan Levy describes five potential solutions for the agency’s staffing shortage that SEPTA is exploring.

Levy suggests that the agency and/or city could subsidize more operator onboarding costs to reduce the fees bus drivers and other agency staff have to pay to gain the appropriate training and certification, a tactic already in place in cities like Boston and Chicago. This can be achieved through community partnerships like one already created by SEPTA with the West Philadelphia Skills Initiative.

Levy also addresses making work schedules more flexible, addressing operator safety and harassment of operators, and boosting pay and hiring bonuses. SEPTA is implementing changes in each of these areas.

As a less desirable solution, Levy also posits that the agency could, like others, cut service to reduce the need for more operators, a less-than-ideal solution for riders. Levy notes that the latest version of the bus system redesign, which reduces service on some lines, is open for public comment until May.

Sunday, April 2, 2023 in WHYY

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