There's a shortage across the country of city bus drivers as 71% of transit agencies surveyed said they've had to cut or delay service.
It's a problem that started before the pandemic, but transportation advocates said the pandemic made the situation worse.
“It's partly just the job overall has created inequality. It used to be a reliable gateway into the middle class, but the wages of a lot of middle-class jobs just don't go as far as they used to,” said Chris Van Eyken, program manager for TransitCenter.
Some cities are seeing success by offering signing bonuses of up to $6,000 if the person already has a commercial driver’s license. Others are asking retired drivers to come back.
“I think there needs to be more of a focus on making sure they stay with the agency after that because we're seeing lots of folks after a year or two just not able to keep up with the job and so they're leaving to go to other fields. And if you have a CDL right now, you're very much in demand,” Van Eyken said. “So you have some options about where you work.”
Nearly two-thirds of transit agencies said they're having difficulty keeping workers. TransitCenter’s report found drivers are looking for more flexible schedules, better facilities like more reliable access to restrooms and better-addressing driver safety.