CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Charlotte Area Transit System has made changes to several bus routes to make up for the staffing challenges it faces. This meant reducing service on 20% of its routes.
The changes started on August 15. The agency tells WCNC Charlotte’s Jesse Pierre they are seeing positive results, and by reducing some of its routes, they are able to better meet the need of riders.
MORE NEWS: CATS is reducing the frequency of routes due to a staffing shortage. Here's what to expect
“The buses are our livelihood. We get to work we get to job interviews, we get to the grocery store. We get to doctor appointments this way,” said Kelly Mann.
Riders like Mann depend on the bus for their daily activities and the bus being on time is very important.
“I believe in getting to where you need to go,” she continued. “If I tell someone I’m going to get to work on time then I need to get there and I rely on the buses to get there.”
In an effort to combat staffing shortages and call-outs, CATS reduced its services to make sure they have the staffing at hand to match the number of routes it provides.
Jason Lawrence is the Director of Planning for CATS.
“We've been able to balance our reserve operators and the operators that call out or have a vacation. And then we're able to balance and deliver the service that we have scheduled and to improve reliability,” he said.
CATS reports missing over 2,300 trips the week of August 8 to August 11.
Following the changes that number went down to 6 missed trips from August 22 to August 28.
Last week, that number ticked back up but was still only at 97.
Lawrence said there’s been a significant drop.
“The result of that is we have far fewer missed trips each and every day… in the single digit numbers,” said Lawrence.
Riders have mixed reviews.
“I use it to get to school and it’s been running all right for me,” explained AJ Jones. “My bus always comes five after 8 and five after 7. It is always on time.”
“They are always super late or they don’t show up,” said Mann. “They never can tell you when you call if they are coming at all so you don’t know if you need to stand there and wait. “I’ve waited hours at the bus stop.”
CATS is focused on improving the experience for riders.
Lawrence is encouraging folks to use the CATS mobile app to get an even better update on bus or rail time arrivals. When it comes to the changes on the routes Lawrence said as the staffing improves routes will be added back on.
CATS currently has 77 bus operator vacancies. It is working with the Transit Management of Charlotte to fill those positions.
“They are putting those job fairs out there,” said Lawrence. “I think that's key to our strategy to hire and retain our operators.”
Since May, CATS has hired 92 operator trainees.
Lawrence said with more staff it can better serve its riders.
“I believe there's a direct correlation between the reliability of the service and the ability to serve your ridership but also increase your ridership,” said Lawrence.
There are job fairs scheduled every Wednesday in September and in October from 10 am to 2 pm. It’s all taking place at CATS bus garage location on South Tryon. They are even holding interviews right there on the spot.
Contact Jesse Pierre at email@example.com or follow her on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
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