MARTA Makes Temporary Service Modifications to Address Bus Operator Shortage
All Bus Routes Remain Operational; Majority of Routes to Run on Saturday Schedule
MARTA will make temporary service modifications to its bus service beginning Saturday, Dec. 18, to address a shortage of bus operators. All 113 current bus routes will remain operational, with the majority, 96 routes, operating on a Saturday schedule. Eleven high ridership routes will continue operating on a weekday schedule, as will six routes that normally don’t run on Saturday.
Staff shortages are a challenge for many industries right now, and public transit has been hit particularly hard. MARTA budgets for 1,366 full-time bus operators and currently has 1,179 on staff, representing a 14 percent deficit. COVID-19 has posed the greatest threat to operator retention and recruitment, with operators leaving due to concerns over their health or being terminated due to noncompliance with MARTA’s COVID-19 Vaccination Policy. The Policy states that all employees must submit either a vaccination card or weekly test results. Absenteeism among remaining operators is high, resulting in cancelled routes or last-minute schedule changes that inconvenience customers and impact service reliability.
“This temporary adjustment to our bus service will reduce uncertainty about when your bus is coming or if it’s coming at all,” said MARTA Deputy General Manager of Operations Collie Greenwood. “Like almost all transit agencies and other industries we are having to operate with a reduced workforce due to the effects of COVID, and this schedule change allows us to responsibly address this shortage and still provide service our customers can rely on.”
MARTA is actively recruiting bus operators through every available channel and holding monthly job fairs, processing many qualified candidates on the spot. The Authority has streamlined its hiring process as well making it more competitive with other transportation companies. Additionally, all new hires must be vaccinated against COVID-19.
This was a difficult but necessary decision, and we expect to return to our regular service soon. MARTA will deploy operators as they are hired and trained so that regular weekday bus service for all routes can resume with a full complement of drivers.
Bus route schedules will be updated on www.itsmarta.com and the MARTA On the Go app to reflect these changes beginning Saturday, Dec. 18th.