Albuquerque Ride bus drivers say they’re worried about their safety, the safety of their passengers and other drivers on the road. They’re understaffed, overworked and they’re tired of it.
“Because of our bus driver shortage, we have operators working six to seven days a week, and we’re working unsafe working hours,” says Jonathan.
‘Jonathan’ is a bus driver with ABQ Ride. KRQE News 13 is concealing his identity and real name because he does not want to lose his job.
Last October, Jonathan got a notice telling him he is obligated to work on what should be his days off.
“We have drivers out there working about almost 18 hours, 17 hours, 15 hours a day,” he says.
It’s been that way ever since.
“My entire family wants to leave me because I’m never there,” says Jonathan.
A spokesperson with ABQ Ride says there is a reason for the long and extra hours.
“Right now we’re budgeted for 284 drivers and we currently have on the roster, 203 drivers,” says spokesman Rick De Reyes.
Being down 81 drivers means the Transit Department now has to force drivers to work hours they’re not usually scheduled to work.
That also means days off are few and far between.
“A lot of them do work a split shift where they come in for about four to five hours, have some time off in the day, then work in the evening,” says De Reyes.
But Jonathan says these long hours are not only affecting drivers’ personal lives, but how they perform at work.
“They’re messing up and we’re getting reprimanded for our mess ups,” he says.
Now, Jonathan is pleading for the city to act fast.
“Just help us out. Have our back,” he says.
The city says they hope drivers can stay patient as they do their best to fill the open positions.
“If we can achieve even half the positions, that’ll go a long way in helping us not having to draft people, not having to have those people work overtime,” says De Reyes.
De Reyes says they have been losing drivers gradually over the past few months.
One of the main reasons is because drivers are getting better offers from other cities and from private companies.
Pay starts at $14 an hour and then goes up to $16 an hour after a six-month probation period.
More experienced drivers can earn up to $20 an hour.
Anyone who would like to apply for the job, can do so on the city’s ABQ Ride website.