ST. LOUIS (AP) — Bus service will be reduced in St. Louis along more than three dozen routes this week because of a significant worker shortage.
The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports that Metro Transit currently has about 150 openings it is struggling to fill with most of those jobs being driver positions. Normally the agency employs about 2,300 people.
“Our employment crisis is at such a depth that we had to reduce service temporarily while we try to increase our employment,” said Taulby Roach, the president and CEO of Bi-State Development, the agency that oversees Metro Transit. “We had to make a hard decision about what we could reasonably sustain.”
Officials are trying to find more workers by organizing job fairs, offering $2,000 hiring bonuses and trying to bring back some retired operators, but they've had only limited success with those efforts.
Roach said that Metro is “literally begging for employees” currently.
So starting Monday, Metro Transit will reduce service along 38 bus routes and suspend service entirely on six other lines.
Roach said Metro has “never had a circumstance where we were literally begging for employees” as is now the case.
Even before this week’s planned cuts riders said no-show buses and long waits had become increasingly common in recent months.
Metro’s changes had passengers scrambling to “figure out rides,” said Bonney Nelson, a 35-year-old St. Louis resident who relies on the bus service.