Some Port Authority riders say they’re being left behind, and it’s a problem that’s been going on for more than a year.
According to the Port Authority, they are currently 100 drivers and 60 maintenance crew members short.
Port Authority spokesman Adam Brandolph says there were a larger number of issues Monday morning.
“We are aware that riders are being left at stops, buses aren’t showing up and they’re coming very late. Of course, if you’re somebody who’s relying on transit to get to work, to get to childcare, or to get to schools, that can be unacceptable, right?” said Laura Wiens, Pittsburghers for Public Transit executive director.
The Port Authority said the shortage could also impact Pittsburgh Public Schools students riding buses to school.
The Port Authority and a union for the drivers said there have been retirements and recruitment efforts have been difficult. They also said the extensive 10-week training course drivers have to go through is tougher to do with social distancing requirements.
The Port Authority said it is working on recruitment and is hosting a job fair Sept. 10 at the PA Career Link on Wood Street in downtown Pittsburgh at 10 a.m.
“We take this very seriously. When we put out a schedule, that is our contract with the public and when we can’t make that schedule, we really take that seriously. We ask for patience and some courtesy and even kindness for the operators, the drivers who are out there busting their butts today,” Port Authority spokesman Adam Brandolph said.
Pittsburgh Public Schools leaders said they’re aware of the Port Authority’s shortages, and for any student taking a port authority bus that’s late, they will not be penalized by the school.
Pittsburgh’s Action News 4 spoke with Felicia Snyder, a parent, who says she’s expecting some transportation issues given the delay in the school start time and staggering of schedules, but Snyder encourages patience among parents and the district.
“It’s just one of those things where we’re going to have to learn how to be kind. We’re going to have to learn how to be empathetic, and we’ll have to learn how to just be decent human beings because it’s the right thing to do,” Snyder said.
The full statement from Pittsburgh Public Schools is below:
“Our transportation department works very closely with Port Authority and stays up to date on the challenges they are also facing due to the driver shortage. As part of our planning, we consider the impact students’ commutes will have on bus capacities to alleviate overcrowding concerns. With many of our students getting to school in new ways and expecting that challenges with driver coverage will continue, school leaders will not penalize students who face challenges getting to school on time due to unexpected delays and inconsistent route coverage.”