Link Transit is reducing service to some routes due to a shortage of bus drivers available. The Link Transit board also rejected the $2,500 retention bonuses for bus drivers.

The board held a public hearing on August 16, discussing some of these upcoming changes. 

Planning and Development Manager for Link Transit Cristina Barone told the board that they currently do not have enough operators for the next service period. The next service period is from October 3, 2022 to January 2, 2023.

She also shared that most operators are being required to work on one of their days off. 

Link Transit is short six full-time employees for covering all of their service areas. They currently have four operators in training, but will not be ready by October 3.

General Manager for Link Transit Richard DeRock said that hiring is difficult due to the amount of training needed to become an operator compared to other jobs, along with changing work schedules making it difficult to keep a routine.

They said that many operators are retiring or leaving for higher paying jobs.

Wenatchee City Councilmember Mark Kulaas brought up the idea of providing childcare or health services, similar to what other employers are doing.

Back in July, Link Transit presented an idea to give their drivers a $2,500 retention bonus. They voted to table that vote until they received more information.

Anne Hessburg stated that it would be irresponsible for the board to wait on giving bonuses while they wait for more information on the retention study.

The vote came down to 4-5 to approve the bonuses. 

Due to the lack of drivers, the following changes will be made:

  • Stopping every 60 minutes rather than 30 minutes for the following routes for Route 3, 4, 5, and 9
  • Eliminating the Route 20, 26, 32, and 34:
  • Additional changes for the following routes:
    • Route 4: Dropping 5th St. to Wenatchee Valley College and adding Riverside/Walla Walla 
    • Route 7: Serving Target in both directions and serving Walmart
    • Route 9: Dropping service on Mission between Ferry and Crawford, and adding service to Ferry and Okanogan.

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