Speaking of transit cancellations: Any Metro hope on the horizon?

Before today’s news of King County Water Taxi trip cancellations, we had asked Metro for an update on bus-service staffing, since we’ve noticed the deluge of missed-trip notifications most weekdays. In particular, we asked if anything specific was planned to boost reliability for the impending school year, since middle- and high-school students in particular rely on Metro service. Here’s the reply, via spokesperson Elaine Porterfield:

We continue to recruit and train part-time drivers, and train and promote drivers to full-time work, but still are working to stabilize our workforce, which we expect to continue for the next several months.

Fortunately, many routes that serve schools are frequent all-day routes and riders benefit from an additional bus arriving in the event that a canceled trip occurs. We encourage customers to use our real-time tools to see when the next bus is expected at their stop, and subscribe to receive emails or texts for routes they rely on most.

Overall, we are providing about 11,000 bus trips daily across the system, and the transition into the school year also marks the typical end of vacation, and potentially can boost transit operator availability for covering additional trips when needed.

9 Replies to "Speaking of transit cancellations: Any Metro hope on the horizon?"

  • flimflam August 19, 2022 (6:37 pm)

    I can’t help but be skeptical at this point regarding all the cries of “nobody wants to work” and constant staffing issues now. Either the work environment or the pay is not good enough OR maybe businesses/agencies have fallen in love with the covid labor numbers?

  • Mj August 19, 2022 (10:39 pm)

    I get too many text alerts the 50, 55, 56 and 57 are not operating, what is really frustrating is when three consecutive runs to Admiral from DT get cancelled in a row that has happened numerous times.  And cuts of 56 and then the next 57 or visa versa happens way to often.  This happens in the AM too.

    • newnative August 20, 2022 (1:22 pm)

      It really ticks me off when they say to follow their real-time tools because they don’t always announce their cancellations so there is a reliance on a tool that doesn’t work. Also, it means I have to check my notifications the second I wake up to plan my commute and even then,  the buses can be cancelled. The 56/57 cancellations are the worst in the afternoon. It’s not a commuter route when it doesn’t run. I see my neighbors hopping on the random (C)rapidride because they can’t trust the 56/57 will come. Then it comes late and it’s half empty the whole time.  Once it starts getting dark/cold early, this will be intolerable. 

      • jay August 20, 2022 (5:11 pm)

        Yep. I’ve NEVER gotten a 56/57 notification before the scheduled stop. It’s usually no notification or a text around 11am to noon for busses around 7am. Metro unreliability started in early 2019, long before the pandemic.

  • Bus August 20, 2022 (4:04 am)

    Part of adopting “we’re all gonna get COVID over and over” as a public health strategy means accepting that there are just going to be a lot more people out sick over and over.  This in turn creates ongoing staffing issues across all industries, but particularly in public-facing jobs like transit.  Treating COVID mitigation as an individual choice was always going to have collective consequences, and here they are, because that’s how public health works.  

  • Marianne August 20, 2022 (12:16 pm)

    I bet Metro could hire more drivers if they were full-time jobs from the start.

    • School bus driver August 20, 2022 (1:14 pm)

      It’s not easy to offer more full time positions.  Ridership peaks during rush hours and that’s when the most drivers are needed. It’s impractical,  expensive, and irresponsible to run empty busses in-between. One possible solution would be to offer drivers the possibility of a split shift.  But, even then, full time work could not be guaranteed.

    • NotOnHolden August 20, 2022 (4:19 pm)

      In August 2020 Metro laid off 200 part time operators.  Then Summer/Fall 2021 they started recalling them.  I don’t know how many actually returned to Metro, I know I spoke to laid off operators that moved out if state, what were they supposed to do when they couldn’t get any answers about when they might return to work.Another issue that I doubt is resolved is the recruitment team are some fantastic people but Metro HR is a horribly toxic environment because they focused more on hiring project managers and other higher level positions instead of properly budgeting for the support needed for the recruiters in Metro HR to be able to effectively do their jobs.

  • Auntie August 20, 2022 (5:44 pm)

    And, just guessing, that Metro would rather hire two part timers with no benefits instead of one full timer and pay benefits. I know some local grocery stores do this to save money, making it necessary for those part time workers to have at least one other job.

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