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Metro Transit driver shortage cuts 67 bus trips on dozen of routes

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Metro Transit bus
Metro Transit is suspending dozens of bus trips because of a driver shortage.
Tim Post | MPR News 2012

Metro Transit says it is suspending dozens of bus trips because of a driver shortage, effective Tuesday.

The suspensions started just after 6 a.m. 

Metro Transit said in an online posting it was stopping 67 bus trips on 40 of its routes until further notice. The transit agency says it is short about 90 drivers, despite a recent push to recruit new operators across the Twin Cities.

The service suspensions affect about 1 percent of all daily bus trips, and are mostly at the start of the morning and afternoon rush hours. There are a handful that stretch past 7 p.m. 

Metro Transit says it is suspending the trips now to prevent last-minute cancellations.

"Sometimes our riders in recent weeks have been at the bus stops, and then getting the alert that the bus won't come," said Metro Transit spokesperson Howie Padilla. "We wanted to take this step to try and make our reliability what we think it should be system-wide." 

Metro Transit's online schedules and NextTrip service already reflect the changes in the bus trips. Another round of service changes is scheduled to go into effect on Aug. 18.

The agency says it is working aggressively to hire more drivers, but that competition for people who have a commercial driver's license, including truck and school bus drivers, is stiff. Padilla told MPR News that drivers receive generous benefits for part- and full-time work.

"It's almost $20 an hour to start. Even part-time work is full-time benefits. And what I have seen is there are people who are with us for decades. It's a great place to make a career," Padilla said.