Bus driver shortage leads HRT to miss trips; hiring incentives offered

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NORFOLK, Va. (WAVY) — A shortage of bus drivers and mechanics is forcing Hampton Roads Transit (HRT) to miss trips when there aren’t the drivers to complete them. 

Region-wide there are 283 openings for commercial driver operators, including jobs at other bus operations, said HRT spokesperson Tom Holden. However, the number of qualified applicants is much smaller than that.

While Holden didn’t provide the number of openings HRT has, he said there are around only 40 identified qualified applicants. 

“These are jobs that, they require a special set of skills. Jobs for people who are who are flexible they can be working at any time in the early morning or at night and you are working with the public,” Holden said.

HRT attributes the hiring issue to several reasons including the regions low unemployment rate. 

However, a report also said the transportation agency has seen an increase in driver applicant disqualifications from failed drug tests and physicals. 

In order to try to bring in new applicants, HRT has added a $1,000 signing bonus for qualified mechanics and drivers. 

In addition, HRT has set up a program in which applicants that don’t yet have their Commercial Drivers License (CDL) can be paid while they train to get one.

HRT recently spent more than $13 million to buy new buses to replace older ones. 

NOTE: The headline in an earlier version of this story indicated “routes” were being canceled as a result of the driver shortage. The headline and story have been updated to clarify that certain trips of the routes are canceled.  

Copyright 2019 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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