GRTC to cut back on services due to lack of bus drivers, mechanics

Published: Oct. 29, 2021 at 7:07 PM EDT
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RICHMOND, Va. (WWBT) - GRTC is gearing up to cut back on services and adjust the timing of several bus routes. This all comes as the bus service grapples with a bus driver and mechanic shortage.

GRTC needs a full fleet of staff. Right now, Carrie Rose Pace says the transit system is about 30 drivers and 10 mechanics short.

“That means that we’re not just in need of people to be in the driver’s seat and deliver that service every day; we also need mechanics behind the scenes that are keeping the fleet in a state of good repair so that we can and get the bus out on the street,” she said.

To avoid leaving riders stranded, GRTC had to come to a compromise. That could mean slightly longer waits at certain bus stops.

“That’s why we need to make these smart scheduling adjustments so that our customers have confidence that we will show up when we say we will, and we are built for the current staffing levels that we have to deliver that service,” Rose Pace said.

Beginning in December, GRTC is looking to reduce how often their buses arrive at the Pulse stops and 14 other routes.

“It’s really the frequency that is being adjusted on a few of our routes,” Rose Pace said. “Some of them are lower ridership and more community routes that are going into the neighborhoods.”

As for the busy Pulse, route buses will run every 15 minutes during the day, rather than every 10 minutes, and up to 30 minutes late at night.

GRTC also plans to incentivize potential new hires with signing bonuses.

While GRTC looks for more workers, there is another roadblock looming ahead: its vaccine mandate. 70% of GRTC staff are fully vaccinated. The clock is ticking for the remaining 30%.

“There are going to be some individuals who may choose to leave their place of employment when there is a vaccine mandate,” Rose Pace said. “We’re preparing for that possibility.”

GRTC is toying with other solutions. It is looking to partner with ride-sharing companies such as Lyft or Uber to give riders a trip home if they work late nights or early mornings when buses are not available.

Copyright 2021 WWBT. All rights reserved.

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