TriMet has temporarily reduced its bus service as the agency experiences a severe staffing shortage. The changes took effect last Monday. The affected lines will have buses running less frequently on weekdays, according to a post on TriMet’s website, and some lines may run fewer hours of the day with service starting later or ending earlier.
TriMet announced the planned cutbacks in early December, and said that it had 45 open bus driver positions and not enough applications to meet its expected hiring goals. An email sent last month, TriMet called it “the most significant operator shortfall in agency history.”LIFT paratransit riders will experience longer ride times or differences in pickup or drop-off times. MAX and WES will not see any reductions to their current schedules, although those schedules remain at the lower levels that were put in place in April 2020, according to TriMet.
TriMet spoksperson Tia York said “We’re actually hopeful that this service reduction will help improve the experience some of our riders have been encountering while they’re out on the system,” York said. “And that is that their busses don’t arrive because we don’t have operators to drive them.”“At this time we are not eliminating any bus lines, and most of these 20 lines will see temporary service reductions to weekday service,” York said.
To attract workers, TriMet has increased rates by $4 an hour and is offering a $2,500 signing bonus. All TriMet routes, including buses, light rail and commuter rail, have already been operating at reduced capacity since the start of the pandemic. Trimet states, “We hope service will return to normal levels soon but we do not have an estimate on when that will happen. We need to hire and train more bus operators before we’re able to return to regular service levels.”