San Luis Obispo Transit’s continued shortage of bus drivers has led to more suspended bus services and modified schedules that continually affect Cal Poly students and local residents.
The city announced in a Jan. 26 press release that bus lines 1B and 2B are suspended indefinitely due to the labor shortage. Starting Jan. 30, bus lines 3A, 3B and 4A are now running modified schedules to have more reliable services.
Transit Assistant Jesse Stanley said the pandemic reduced bus services. Even though the community is slowly reopening, bus drivers are not returning to work.
“Due to call-offs [from drivers], often at the last minute, routes and runs have had to be suspended with little time to alert our riders,” Stanley wrote to Mustang News. “SLO Transit is providing service based on available drivers.”
Driver shortages and high ridership levels on weekday mornings resulted in these modified services, another press release stated.
SLO Transit driver Oris Martin is one employee who’s had to miss work due to getting COVID-19. Martin said his routes have been cut shorter, which helps avoid overburdening drivers and saves the City money on the buses.
“But also, not many students are riding the bus after 10 o’clock,” Martin said.
Cal Poly students and staff represent roughly 50 to 60% of the SLO Transit ridership. However, Martin told Mustang News the shorter hours also leave some community members who are elderly or people with disabilities without transportation.
Each of the four numbered routes the city has to offer consist of an A and B track. The A track travels in a clockwise direction, whereas the B track travels in a counterclockwise direction. This system ultimately works to reduce travel times for transit riders.
Schedule modifications suspend particular timings for routes 3A (which travels from Cal Poly to the Amtrak Station) and 4A (which travels from Foothill to Monterey).
“This is the first I have heard of it,” Monforte said. “[The suspended services are] definitely an issue for me.”
Monforte takes the bus every day to get to and from school for classes and an on-campus job.
SLO Transit will reinstate all suspended or modified services once they recruit and train additional drivers.
“Working for the city is kind of like gratification when you can still be there for people that can’t get around on a normal day-to-day without the bus,” Martin said. “You’re looking out for the community the best way you can and doing the job you’re paid for, so it’s kind of like a win-win in a lot of regards.”
All inquiries can be shared with SLO Transit through firstname.lastname@example.org or (805) 541-2877.
Catherine Allen contributed reporting to this article.