ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – ABQ Ride is shifting its bus schedule on Oct. 14 because of a “severe staffing shortage” for both bus drivers and mechanics.
ABQ Ride says they’re going to make changes to eleven routes on their major corridors. KRQE News 13 spoke with passengers who say they’re worried about how this will impact them.
“It’ll probably impact us a lot, it’ll probably delay us for a lot of our appointments too now…Because you have to really depend on the bus if you don’t have another ride,” says Dnajwa Smith, bus rider.
People like Dnajwa Smith and her daughter rely on buses every day to get to medical appointments. ABQ Ride says a shortage of drivers and mechanics since March means there will be fewer buses to take them where they need to go.
“You know we were hopeful that because we were coming out of the holidays, summer months were upon us that we would see a quicker rebound but it’s just not happening and it’s not happening anywhere,” says Bobby Sisneros, Deputy Director at ABQ Ride.
Many of the changes were made to routes that serve major corridors in Albuquerque, including Lomas Boulevard, San Mateo Boulevard, and the two ART lines on Central Avenue. With the changes, the number of buses needed will be reduced by about 15%. The changes are expected to improve on-time performance across the transit system and reduce the burden on bus drivers and mechanics.
The changes will mean passengers could wait an extra ten minutes for fixed routes and approximately four minutes on the ART lines. Changes that will have a major impact on Smith and her daughter.
“We’ll probably have to just wake up earlier, a lot earlier than we usually do to get the buses,” says Smith.
Others say they feel the same.
“Not really any concerns, just finding a seat on the bus would be a concern,” says David McDonald, bus rider.
“But it could change their plans and increase wait times you know…I’d like to take a 15-minute Uber but it’s expensive, so this is the next best option,” says Josh Whalen, a bus rider.
ABQ Ride says they’ve increased recruitment efforts, but it wasn’t working fast enough to keep up with demand. In the meantime, they’ve had to put drivers and mechanics on extra shifts.
“We can’t continue to ask our drivers to be putting in the hours that they have been, it’ll wear them out and then we’re afraid we’ll lose them on the back end as well…It provides a little bit of relief for staff and provides consistency for our passengers,” says Sisneros.
The changes will be in place until more drivers are hired, according to the city’s website. As of Sept. 28, there were 106 vacancies out of 256 motorcoach operator positions and 17 vacancies out of 43 total vehicle maintenance positions. To view the schedule changes, click here.