Worcester County

Shortage of Worcester bus drivers causing delays

WORCESTER, Mass. — Worcester’s Union Station Hub is a busy place.

But since January, there have been fewer buses to go around

A bus driver shortage has cut back service, and riders are feeling it.

“It’s very frustrating, it’s really, really hard to get around the city sometimes,” said Stephanie Herbert, a Worcester rider.

“My employees are delayed on a regular basis and the reason for that often is the buses,” David Webb told Boston 25 News.

On Fridays, the Worcester Regional Transit Authority (WRTA) has suspended service on one line, and reduced service on six others.

Incoming WRTA Administrator Joshua Rickman has only been on the job for about a week.

He says the system is budgeted for 89 drivers and is down 4, and is having difficulty hiring new drivers.

“We always want to get to 89. We are reviewing those numbers, seeing what we can do to ensure that it is right-sized,” WRTA Administrator Joshua Rickman said.

But the union that represents the bus drivers says the company needs to hire more than 4 bus drivers

They say the real number is more like ten to 12.

The union has begun information pickets at the Hub, trying to get the word out, that the WRTA is severely understaffed.

“For whatever reason, there’s shortages and they are running the transportation company on a skeleton crew,” Ken Kephart of Amalgamated Transit Union Local 22 said. “It’s like a ticking time bomb. Something severe is going to happen.”

WRTA Administrator Rickman says right now he’s focused on hiring four more bus drivers, but he’s promising to examine the books to see if that number is accurate

“I’m starting week 2. Diving into numbers and working with the team to ensure we provide the service as scheduled,” Rickman said.

In the meantime, riders remain frustrated.

“The buses could be reliable, this is one of the things Worcester could and should improve. I really want it to,” rider David Webb said.

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