ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – Five months ago, a shortage of bus drivers forced the city of Albuquerque to cut some bus routes and shorten others. Now, they are doing it again, suspending more bus services throughout the city.
“We were juggling between our resources and balancing them appropriately between our drivers and our buses, and they didn’t always match up,” Leslie Keener, the city’s transit director, said.
She claimed the shortage is only getting worse, citing they need both drivers and mechanics.
“If we don’t have mechanics that can work on the buses, we don’t have buses that the drivers can drive, so they go hand and hand,” Keener said.
With more than a hundred vacancies, Keener said it’s the most she’s seen in her time there. Bus drivers sitting at a 41% vacancy rate, that number climbing since the beginning of the year.
“[We] will continue to monitor it, and if we’re seeing a lot of missed service and another huge impact, then [we] will start having those conversations about potentially dialing back service again.”
While the department works on incentives to bring in more people, the lack of workers has contributed to missed service for people trying to catch a ride, which was a topic discussed in Monday’s City Council meeting.
“I know that the Transit Department has been working on it, but I still get emails that people are not getting picked up when they should be, so I am still advocating for less routes for now that are dependable than more routes that are not dependable,” Councilor Brook Bassan said.
The Transit Department said they are making progress in other ways and scheduling changes have allowed them to move drivers to different routes to fill gaps.