CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Nearly 90 Charlotte bus drivers will be out of work Monday as the Charlotte Area Transit System (CATS) continues to deal with staffing issues.
Monday's announcement of 88 bus driver absences comes after dozens of drivers called out multiple days last week. Over 100 drivers missed work Wednesday, leading to delays across the city for CATS riders.
CATS CEO John Lewis said last week that there's a glaring issue with drivers' contracts, allowing too many absences. He said right now on a normal week, they have more than negative-30 drivers available.
"There have only been six times in the last two months that we've had exactly the number of operators for the day," Lewis said.
There is currently talk of raising pay for drivers to the highest in CATS history, and Lewis said the organization is also looking at four-day work weeks, flexible schedules and other incentives to raise employee morale. He said CATS could make a short-term fix by limiting rides and stops on weekends, using fewer employees and allowing the system to catch up on job vacancies.
CATS encouraged passengers to download its app for real-time data on routes and delays.
"Thanks for your patience as we work to address the industry-wide labor shortage," CATS tweeted Monday.
CATS drivers have been pushing for improved safety this year in response to the shooting death of Ethan Rivera in Uptown in February. Operators said they have complained about safety for years, even before Rivera's death, but their concerns have grown since then.
Drivers and other employees voiced those concerns at a City Council meeting in February.
"It's time to stand up," Willis Draughn, who goes by "Red," said. "They're scared they're not going to make it home to their family. That's the issue in this city: We ain't get no respect. These people don't get no respect. They help my city move. They help your city move."
Flashpoint is a weekly in-depth look at politics in Charlotte, North Carolina, South Carolina, and beyond with host Ben Thompson. Listen to the podcast weekly.
SUBSCRIBE: Apple Podcasts || Spotify || Stitcher || Google Podcasts
All of WCNC Charlotte's podcasts are free and available for both streaming and download. You can listen now on Android, iPhone, Amazon, and other internet-connected devices. Join us from North Carolina, South Carolina, or on the go anywhere.