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L.A. Metro Announces Buses and Trains Will Now Be Even Slower Due to Shortage of Drivers

12:17 PM PST on February 22, 2022

    shredded77/Flickr Creative Commons

    As if L.A. commuters who rely on public transportation couldn't have it any worse.

    In January, the MTA re-instituted fares following nearly two years of pandemic-driven free bus rides, in an attempt to get back to the hundreds of millions of dollars of revenue it was making before the meteor known as "March 2020" struck Earth.

    Now ABC tells us that bus and rail service will face deliberate delays to stop continuing cancellations due to a "perfect storm" of issues that have left the agency with a dearth of drivers, including ongoing staff attrition, employees infected with COVID-19, and the same labor shortage trend that has hit many of the nation's big cities. The problems will cause wait times to increase both on certain bus and train lines, several of which will simply be run less frequently.

    The strategic reduction of 800,000 service hours, voted on by The Metro Board of Directors on Jan. 27, is meant to end the surprise cancellations, with expectations that normal service will resume in June.

    Announcing forthcoming 5 to 10-minute delays on dozens of lines, Metro blames its inability to hire bus operators at a higher rate than they're seeing people leave the job. The attrition is said to have started last July, resulting in a deficient of drivers that find 207 new hires contrasted with the 356 who have left or been fired due to a variety of situations, such as retirement, misconduct, new jobs, unsatisfactory performances, and personal reasons, which we imagine extends to people who simply got tired of giving everyone rides around this city during a global pandemic.

    Currently, Metro is short about 448 bus operators and 28 rail operators, the former deficit leading to a 10 to 15% increase in sudden, sporadic cancellations. The agency is considering raising the pay of bus operators to $19.12 an hour from $17.75, as well as a signing bonus.

    COVID-19 has also reportedly affected the ability of Metro to keep buses and trains running. Now the agency is looking to reach benchmarks of 30 or fewer new cases among operators, along with a reduction of bus service cancellations to 2%, and staff levels of at least 3,677 bus operations and 326 rail operators before it will implement its full schedule of service again.

    According to a Bloomberg/Quint report, staffing issues are riddling the agency at the same time ridership remains at half the number of its pre-Covid levels, with 685,000-weekday passengers counted on board in January.

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