Westmoreland Transit cancels more bus routes due to driver shortage | TribLIVE.com

Westmoreland Transit cancels more bus routes due to driver shortage

Rich Cholodofsky
Megan Tomasic | Tribune-Review
Riders exit the 5:56 p.m. 1F bus at the North Huntingdon park-and-ride. Cancellations and delays have impacted riders throughout the week as Westmoreland Transit Authority deals with a driver shortage.
Tribune-Review file
Westmoreland County Transit Authority Executive Director Alan Blahovec and board Chairman Frank Tosto inspect one of five new buses purchased in 2018.

More route cancellations and changes to Westmoreland County Transit Authority bus service were instituted Friday as the driver shortages continued to plague the public transportation system.

The authority announced the 4:15 p.m. bus — one of eight outbound trips from Pittsburgh on the 1F Route that operates through North Huntingdon to Greensburg — was canceled Friday. As of noon, other trips on that route, which start at 3:40 p.m. and run until 5:40 p.m., were still scheduled.

Meanwhile, the 2:15 p.m. run of the Route 6 bus between Greensburg and Irwin and the 4:15 run of Route 9 that services Greensburg and Latrobe will operate with smaller GO Westmoreland vehicles.

Mike Lepley, who rides the 1F bus from Pittsburgh to the North Huntingdon park-and-ride near Sheetz, said the issues have affected him most of the week.

A canceled bus on Wednesday left him and his wife scrambling as they tried to take their kids to tutoring and pick them up from day care. Westmoreland Transit posted a notification for the 5 p.m. bus on its Facebook page shortly before 12:50 p.m. Wednesday.

“If they’re short people, why can’t they send what bus will be missing several days out?” Lepley asked.

Lepley’s wife, Jen, who also rides the 1F bus, said people aren’t always able to check their phones at work for text messages and social media posts regarding canceled or delayed routes.

“There certainly have been longer waits in the evening,” said Josh Benedict at the North Huntingdon park-and-ride.

Benedict said he doesn’t mind waiting unless it’s raining or there’s freezing temperatures.

Comments on the transit authority’s Facebook page expressed similar concerns and frustrations.

The authority for the last week has juggled its daily schedule because of the driver shortage.

National Express Transit, the private operator of the authority’s buses, said this week it has been unable to hire enough drivers to fully staff the service. Drivers who missed work — there were 10 on Thursday — have further impacted the service, officials said.

Alan Blahovec, executive director of the transit authority, issued a statement Friday that service cuts could soon be implemented as a result of the driver’s shortage.

National Express is responsible for the hiring and training of the authority’s bus drivers.

“Unfortunately, if National Express cannot correct this issue quickly, the WCTA will have to consider making some short-term service cuts. The WCTA never wants to cut service, but it would be better for our riders to know in advance what service will be running,” Blahovec said.

Rich Cholodofsky is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Rich at 724-830-6293, [email protected] or via Twitter .

Categories: News | Westmoreland
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