How the Transportation Industry is Handling Driver Shortages
The bus driver shortage is one of the biggest challenges facing the transportation industry. Pre-COVID, transit agency driver shortages have been plaguing cities throughout the country. Between funding cuts and less-than-competitive pay for public sector jobs, workers haven’t been inclined to pursue jobs as public transit drivers for years. Now, the pandemic has only worsened the issue. Many bus drivers retired early during the pandemic, while others changed jobs to limit their exposure to COVID-19.
While some may argue that the real issue isn’t a shortage but a retention problem, transportation companies must find ways to overcome these challenges to meet the rising demand for bus drivers. Here are some ways they’re dealing with the issue.
Route and Frequency Changes
Many transit companies implemented service changes to accommodate the driver shortage. In Minneapolis, the Metro Transit cancelled close to 200 bus routes in one weekend. Chapel Hill Transit in North Carolina changed schedules, running bus routes less frequently. In Michigan, the BATA is operating at only 75 percent of its route capacity despite a 115 percent increase in ridership since 2020. As the shortage persists, general managers and supervisors are even getting behind the wheel to pick up the slack and keep some routes operational.
Better Wages and Incentives
Across industries, companies are boosting wages to attract employees and remain competitive amid employee shortages. Companies are currently offering referral bonuses, sign-on bonuses, and raising wages to appeal to applicants. Some are even considering internships or mentorship programs to guide people towards careers in transportation. In Kentucky, the Paducah Transit System aims to solve its staff shortage by giving $500 to people who qualify after completing their training.
Desperate times have called for even more incentives. Several fleets have established their own driving schools and offered to pay prospective employees to get their CDLs without any time requirements to remain on the job afterward. New York State Assemblyman Billy Jones hopes to get state funding to support grants to cover the cost of CDL training tuition and exams.
Diversifying the Candidate Pool
Opening transportation opportunities to younger people and more women could expand the candidate pool and help meet the demand for drivers. Removing age barriers could be a much-needed step to attract more and younger drivers to fill in the gap.
Overcoming the Driver Shortage
The transportation industry can’t rely on just one method to combat the driver shortage. As the pandemic continues and supply needs remain a top priority, companies must be strategic in their efforts and do everything in their power to reach more prospective drivers. If they continue to raise wages, target younger drivers, and offer better work environments, they can resolve the problem.
The future of the driver shortage remains uncertain – now is the time to do what you can to combat current conditions. Passio Tech provides innovative solutions to improve fleet efficiency, operations, and more. Learn more about how our intelligent transit technology can improve your fleet.