Harrisonburg continues to work around significant bus driver shortage

Published: Sep. 20, 2022 at 7:42 PM EDT
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HARRISONBURG, Va. (WHSV) - Harrisonburg continues to deal with a major bus driver shortage. The city’s Department of Public Transportation is currently short 20 school bus drivers and up to 25 city bus drivers.

“We just ask people to be patient. This is something that we’re working through just like every transit organization that we’ve spoken with. It’s something that we’ll continue to look at to see if there are other changes we need to make,” said Mike Parks, Harrisonburg’s Director of Communications.

HDPT has had to make numerous adjustments and changes to offset the lack of drivers. For example, bus drivers for Harrisonburg schools are having to make multiple runs on each of their routes during the day.

Adjustments have also been to city and James Madison University routes which may cause some delays.

“We have consolidated two of our routes for JMU students. We’ve combined two routes into one and there are fewer buses serving those routes now and one route was completely removed,” said Parks. “Now, there is a city route that also services that area so if you live there you can still get where you need to go you just have to hop on a bus and transfer to another bus.”

Parks said despite the shortage, the transportation department is still able to offer all of its most important services.

“Our school bus, our transit, and our paratransit routes continue. We’ve not had to eliminate services though we have shifted some services. You can still hop on a bus anywhere and get where you need to go you just may have to wait longer than your used to in the past,” said Parks.

The city has increased driver pay and offered a number of hiring incentives over the last year to try to attract more drivers but hiring them has remained difficult.

“We’re also looking at advertising in different places. We’ve reached out to our faith community with a specialized flyer to let our faith community know what jobs are available and hopefully, they will share it with their congregations,” said Parks. “We created a flyer just for HCPS to share with their staff to see if anyone was willing to pick up extra hours driving a school bus.”

The city does pay drivers during their training process. Anyone interested in driving for the city can apply here.