Sioux Area Metro finding ways to manage driver shortage
SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (Dakota News Now) - Bus riders in Sioux Falls might be having a tougher time getting where they need to go this year, particularly on the weekend. Starting this weekend, the Sioux Area Metro will be adjusting their Saturday hours, the second hours of operation adjustment this year due to a driver shortage.
Bus driver shortages are not new. In fact, the need for more bus drivers has been seen nationwide and has been a challenge for Sioux Area Metro since August 2021. SAM General Manager Robert Speeks says that there are a number of factors contributing to a shortage of bus drivers, and some of them trace back to the pandemic.
“2020 caused drivers that may have been on the verge of retirement to actually retire. I think on the other side of that, there is a level of drivers that go from full-time employment to part-time employment,” Speeks explained.
The pandemic also raised some concerns of public health that caused drivers to leave. Since then, they haven’t seen those numbers go back to where they were.
“CDC putting the recommendation to consider not taking public transportation. Along those lines, you have drivers that are concerned about their own health. So that then becomes a decision-making for drivers to stay with their current career or move on,” said Speeks.
Saturdays are the only hours changing and the hours are only shifting slightly, but it’s still not something that they want to do. Both crosstown and on-demand services are reduced by three hours.
“So anytime you cut the service hours for transit, now for the passangers to consider reevaluating their times for their appointments to fit the service hours,” said Speeks.
They haven’t had high level complaints about the changes from peak hour service to hourly service and they’re glad to still continue despite these challenges.
“The cause of that hour change was based on not cutting the actual service, but cutting the service hours,” Speeks explained.
Right now, Speeks says that they’re about eight drivers short of being able to go back to full service, which would include going back to peak-hour services instead of the current hourly services.
SAM is looking for people who are personable and have a good driving record. Benefits include increased pay, great insurance options, and a very high potential for promotions within the company. They will pay for CDL permits and entry-level driver training. If you wish to apply, you can do so in person or online at SiouxFalls.org/SAM.
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