Champaign-Urbana faces tough recovery process in bus driver shortage

Local News

CHAMPAIGN, Ill. (WCIA)– Communities across Central Illinois have noticed a shortage of bus drivers. Schools need help and so does public transit.

The Champaign-Urbana Mass Transit District was down about 30 drivers last week. That remains true as of Wednesday.

However, it’s not because of a lack of applications, according to MTD Managing Director Karl Gnadt. In fact, he said MTD has about 100 applications to go through.

The hitch is that training is an 8-week process. Classes start once a month, with five students in each. Not to mention, Gnadt said bus operators have to be pulled off of their routes to teach, so filling in the gap is a slow process.

Speeding up the training process is not an option, Gnadt said.

“This is the rock and the hard place that we’re stuck between because we need to get people through training, but we will not compromise on safety,” he explained.

The decline in staff started more than a decade ago, Gnadt added. He said they’ve been playing catch up ever since. Plus, as has been true in so many cases, the pandemic made the situation worse.

Champaign-Urbana Mass Transit District is still taking applications. Gnadt said they go through periods where they are few and far between.

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