Thursday, January 27, 2022
Jan. 27, 2022

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TriMet to reduce bus services due to workforce shortage


PORTLAND — TriMet officials said this week that bus services will be reduced starting Jan. 9 because of an extreme shortage of bus operators.

The Portland-area transit agency said TriMet would temporarily reduce service levels by 9%, meaning TriMet will shrink weekly bus service on about 20 of its 84 bus lines, The Oregonian/OregonLive reported.

TriMet Spokesperson Roberta Altstadt said services will be less frequent on weekdays for those lines, and most affected lines will follow Saturday schedules.

Altstadt said riders should check TriMet’s online trip planner after Jan. 9 for the most accurate schedules.

As of this week, Altstadt said the agency was short 45 operators.

The agency dropped service levels by about that much in April 2020, when the COVID-19 pandemic led to a nearly 70% decrease in ridership. Public transit use slowly began to increase again, but TriMet has had trouble recruiting workers — a problem it hasn’t historically faced.

Altstdat said TriMet has stepped up hiring efforts.

Bill Bradley, an executive board member with Amalgamated Transit Union 757, the union that represents about 2,700 TriMet workers, said the union believes the current worker shortage is around 60 — higher than what TriMet reported.

The agency saw a rise in assaults on operators around the beginning of the pandemic, which Bradley said hasn’t decreased. The stressors and dangers have taken a toll on operators, he said.