From General Manager Wes Kooistra
On December 3, we’ll celebrate a major milestone in our effort to create a stronger regional network of Bus Rapid Transit and light rail lines.
The opening of the METRO D Line is an especially big step forward because this new BRT line will notably improve the riding experience for thousands of riders now using the state’s busiest bus route.
The December service changes also include service reductions. As with other service reductions of the recent past, these are due to the continued shortage of bus operators.
We never take these changes lightly. We recognize the cumulative effect of recent service reductions makes these increasingly more difficult for our customers. But we continue to believe it is more important to offer schedules we can maintain than to promise trips we cannot consistently deliver, putting people at risk of waiting for buses that arrive late or not at all.
There is some hopeful news as well. After increasing starting wages by 20%, November hiring events generated more applicants than any time since the start of the pandemic.
Nearly 100 people attended our November bus operator hiring events, and 88 applicants moved forward in the hiring process, many already possessing the Commercial Drivers Licenses needed to become operators.
We know that one data point is not a trend. We will be watching closely to see if the success in attracting applicants continues through the coming months.
And we are moving forward with other new approaches to improve hiring in this tight labor market.
We are starting an industry-leading program that allows aspiring operators who do not have Commercial Drivers Licenses to start as conditional, paid employees while we help them prepare for and earn the permits needed to carry passengers.
And as result of a new labor agreement, for the first time, we are inviting individuals who are not already Metro Transit bus operators to apply for train operator positions. Nearly 30 people have already applied as result of this new flexibility.
So, we are hopeful that we are turning the corner, and with this hope we are embarking on a new effort to thoughtfully consider how service should be added back as staff and other resources become available.
This new project, Network Now, will be informed by customers and community members to help shape the service decisions we make over the next five years. We will be talking about this project more in the coming months.
As always, thank you for your patience, understanding and support. Please know we value you as transit customers and will continue doing everything we can to provide the service our region needs and deserves.
Read an FAQ about the December 3 service changes
Review a summary of the December 3 service changes