Transit customers should prepare for some trip cancellations and a temporary increase in crowding on some routes beginning Oct. 23 and continuing for the next few weeks. This temporary shortage in drivers is expected to mostly affect service during peak commute times when we have the greatest need for available operators.
We apologize in advance for the temporary inconvenience this causes our customers. Metro staff will be tracking and dispatching all available operators to cover as many trips as possible, but during this time, some trips that appear on the schedule will not operate.
How will we communicate with customers about canceled trips?
Metro anticipates sending Transit Alerts to subscribers (sign up here) of routes for which the first or last trip is canceled, and subscribers of commuter routes that have ten or fewer trips in the affected peak period. Transit Alerts include an email, a text message and a tweet. On service that operates more frequently, Transit Alerts are not planned, as the service will be covered by the next scheduled trips. Scheduled and predicted times of service at stops is available in the ‘Next Departures’ and ‘Tracker’ features of Metro’s online Puget Sound Trip Planner.
How many drivers are in training?
Metro has about 2,800 bus operators delivering about 13,500 bus trips across King County each weekday, carrying 400,000 rides. We typically operate just shy of 100% of these trips, but we recognize every trip is essential for the customer waiting at the stop.
We have a class of 36 current part-time Metro bus operators entering training on Oct. 23, returning to driving on Nov. 6 as full-time operators. Another class of 36 part-time drivers will enter training Nov. 6, and re-enter the workforce as full-time drivers on Nov. 20. We also have a part-time class of operators graduating Oct. 30 to operate trips.
Customers rely on our prompt and reliable service. As we have grown, we continue to hire, train and promote transit operators. They start as part-time operators, but to be promoted from part-time to full time status requires a driver to stop operating their daily trips in order to enter two-week training.
To cover service as best we can, standby operators will first be used to drive those trips left unfilled during these training periods. Other drivers who are available once their trips are complete also will be asked to fill in on routes for which they are qualified.
So far this year we have trained about 300 new part-time operators as we have grown to offer even more service across King County. We also have promoted 200 operators to full-time, improving our ability to provide all-day service in key parts of our community.
We also have had our share of retirements as drivers leave the workforce. As we work to fill those vacancies, we are seeking qualified candidates at a time when the local economy is strong and job market is competitive.
Starting wages for part-time operators is $22 and training is paid for by Metro. For details visit Drive For Metro online.