SPARKS, Nev. (KOLO) It appears to be another day on bus route 11. From Sparks to the main station in downtown Reno, people get off and on.
It’s quiet in here for the most part. But there's a rumbling going on, louder than the engine, but less apparent. The shortage of bus drivers.
“There is a certain amount of drivers that would be needed to operate the system on any given day. And right now we are about 10 to 20 drivers short of that number,” says David Jickling, Public Transportation Director with the Regional Transportation Commission.
Jickling says it’s been going on for about a year. They are managed by an outside company that says when the unemployment rate is as tight as it is, employees have other options.
“You earn your commercial driver’s license, which is what is required to drive our bus. Very low unemployment, it is an employee’s market. I go where they are going to pay me the most, and that is tough,” says Jickling
Drivers work off a seniority system. Those who start work here may find inconsistent and less desirable hours at first.
The shortage has meant the RTC has had to cut the frequency of normal routes.
Besides the disruption in service, it's tough to get the word out on a timely basis for riders. Signs alert riders to those changes on posts with route numbers.
There's not much RTC can do about the bus driver shortage, except train them, cross their fingers and hope the drivers can find fulfillment in getting people in our community to their appointments, jobs, and back home to their families safely.