PHILADELPHIA - SEPTA is rushing to hire more drivers amid a significant shortage due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Marshall Fields says he’s had it with SEPTA bus delays, which are now increasing, according to many riders. The transportation authority is rushing to hire more drivers amid a significant shortage.
"Say you got to go to work, this bus is supposed to come at 5:30. He go come quarter to 6, 6 o’clock and you late for work," he said.
SEPTA officials say they are down 83 operators for their busses and trolleys. Scott Sauer, who is the assistant general manager of operations, says they went into an immediate hiring freeze and are now trying to recover.
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"For the four or five months of the pandemic, we weren’t hiring or training anyone. Then when we brought people back, it was social distancing, and masks and people absent from illness and so forth," he explained.
A handful of SEPTA bus drivers even died from the coronavirus and Sauer says many are quitting for various reasons.
So here’s their plan now. "Were filling 28 positions every three weeks. And we lose on average about 22 operators per month for various reasons. So over the course of the rest of this year, we’ll get closer. We’ll reassess and see what we have to do to ramp up," Sauer said.
Meanwhile, transit leadership and Transport Workers Union Local 234 are in the early stages of contract negotiations with ridership at only 45 percent of what it was pre-pandemic and a million bucks a day lost because of major ridership decline and more people teleworking.