Driver Shortage Forces Reduced Bus Service

Starting January 9th, TriMet will reduce service on 20 bus lines due to a historic operator shortage. Two of the affected lines will have an impact on Montavilla riders. Bus line 77 (Broadway/Halsey) and bus line 15 (Belmont/NW 23rd) will see a 9% reduction in service, similar to the April 2020 temporary reductions in response to the pandemic.

Last week, TriMet announced the need for a temporary reduction in service, citing staffing shortages and a lack of applicants as the cause. In the announcement, TriMet staff expressed the organization’s regret in taking these measures. “We apologize to our riders as we would much rather be expanding service, but by taking this step, we increase the schedule reliability, so riders experience less canceled or late buses.” They explain that employee attrition exceeded the number of qualified applicants for open positions over the last year. They do not expect that to change before it impacts system reliability.

By making strategic reductions to service, TriMet hopes to maintain a reliable transit system focused on sustaining service in areas with high concentrations of people with low incomes and communities of color. They will maintain service levels for all routes providing connections to schools, health care providers, and service centers.

Changes are restricted to weekday bus service, with most lines following pre-pandemic service levels on Saturdays. Other reductions to weekend bus, MAX, and WES service made in April 2020 remain in effect. Buses will arrive at 15 minutes intervals during the busiest travel times on designated Frequent Service Lines.

TriMet cannot say when service levels will return to normal as it is dependent on filling open positions. However, they increased bus operator starting pay to $21.36 per hour and provided a $2,500 hiring bonus to incentivize new applicants. Riders are encouraged to visit after January 8th to see how the service reductions will affect their trip.