Two-week uptick in canceled trips is possible
Transit customers might experience a two-week uptick in trip cancellations starting Monday, April 23. While we have been hiring, training, and deploying more bus drivers to meet our service needs, some current drivers will stop driving for a couple of weeks as they take training to become supervisors or to move from part-time to full-time driver roles.
Metro has 2,950 bus drivers providing more than 12,900 weekday bus trips across King County.
Ten new part-time drivers graduated on Friday, April 20 and will start work on Monday, April 23. Thirty-six drivers completed their training to move from part-time to full-time positions that start on April 21, and another dozen part-time drivers are expected to graduate April 27. The more drivers we have joining the ranks, the better, to help reduce the chance of cancellations.
During this same window, 22 full-time drivers will stop driving as they enter field supervisor training, and 36 more part-time drivers will begin two weeks of training to become full-time transit operators. Those 36 operators will return to service Monday, May 5, with the ability to provide even more service to riders.
In the meantime, we’re asking all available drivers to help pick up additional trips so we don’t have to cancel single trips, but we’re still giving riders a heads-up that individual trips might be canceled. On routes that operate very few trips during the commute time, our customer communications staff will be working closely with our control center to send electronic transit alerts and to flag canceled trips in the Puget Sound Trip Planner app. Transit coordinators will do their best to fill any missed trips that might emerge, even if the trip needs to run later than scheduled.
We apologize for the temporary inconvenience this will mean for some riders. We’re striving to meet the high demand for transit service in King County, and that requires a constantly growing workforce. More information about our ongoing hiring efforts is online.
Metro has increased bus service seven consecutive times since 2015, thanks to the region’s strong economy and Seattle voter-approved funds. The Seattle area leads the country in growing transit service, integrated closely with Sound Transit Link light rail.
We know that continuing to invest in frequent and reliable transit service is the best way to move people in our community, to reduce pollution, to connect people with opportunity and help them reach their potential. We appreciate your continued support.
I understand the need to fill positions, what I don’t understand is the need to take so many, 22, full time operators, all at once, for SIT classes. Combined with 36 part time operators, that’s 58 people not in their seats all at one time. These could, and probably should, be spread out to create fewer cancellations instead of potentially creating more problems. The two classes, SIT and part time to full time, should have been better planned and spread apart, not grouped together. Perhaps Metro hierarchy needs to take a page out of its own playbook when reminding operators that people depend on us to get to appointments, work and cancellations do NOT help anyone.
As long as METRO is in training mode, perhaps it would instruct drivers to operate the ventilation system on the bus at all times. It shouldn’t be necessary to have to ask the driver to switch on the ventilation. It’s almost comical during rush hour that just when the bus fills up with passengers the drivers often decide that’s a good time to switch OFF the ventilation.
A new hope; that training will include ways to provide a smoother ride. A jerky, foot on the brake pedal, ride is hard on the neck and shoulders.
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