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Rider's Almanac Blog

From the GM

Sometimes providing a reliable service requires difficult choices

Posted by Drew Kerr | Monday, November 1, 2021 10:02:00 PM

A Route 18 bus travels on Nicollet Mall in Minneapolis.

From General Manager Wes Kooistra

While the pandemic has reduced ridership, we’ve continued to keep buses and trains running so people can use transit to get where they need to go.

However, like many transit agencies, we are facing a significant driver shortage. We are not always honoring our commitments to you because we do not have enough people to meet our schedules. This is unacceptable.

As general manager, I want to apologize to anyone who has experienced times when a bus or train was not there when it was scheduled to be there.

Since March, we’ve been working hard to hire more drivers. We’ve held monthly one-day hiring events and will continue to hold more. We’ve streamlined the hiring process and are providing on-site CDL training. We offer hiring and referral bonuses.

These efforts have led to new hires, but we are still about 80 drivers short of what we need to meet our current schedules.

So, beginning December 4, we are making changes that, together, represent about a 5% reduction in current systemwide service hours. These changes are intended to improve reliability so we meet the standards we share with our customers.

In planning the December 4 service changes, we’ve considered ridership levels, reliance on transit service, and the availability of alternative routes. The full list of routes that will be affected by the December 4 change are listed on our website. If you haven’t already done so, please consider signing up for Rider Alerts to receive text or email updates about the routes you use.

Of course, reducing service is never something we want to do. We know these changes will be inconvenient to some of you and may be more difficult for others. But we have also heard that what you want more than anything else is a schedule you can rely on.

So, I want to thank you again for your continued patience and support. The driver shortage is another challenge we must overcome. But I am confident we can and will rise above as we remain committed to providing a stronger and better service.

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