Officials with MTD concerned with shortages after having to cancel weekend rides

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CHAMPAIGN, Ill. (WCIA)–The Champaign-Urbana Mass Transit District had to cancel multiple evening rides for the 50 Green and 70 Grey for the first time ever, this weekend. Officials said it’s not only because they don’t have enough available manpower.

Their current drivers are also running out of gas, working overtime to make up for shortages.

“I would say this is something we’ve been dealing with for quite awhile, but it has gotten significantly worse recently,” MTD’s managing director Karl Gnadt said. “The problem we’re running into now is that we’ve had a dramatic increase in the number of absences. Many of them are COVID-19 related, not because people have cases but to take care of children or family members,”

Gnadt said MTD used to have 15-20 employees call off every day, but since the pandemic, more than 30 workers take off work on any given day. For many MTD drivers, that means working well beyond their normal shift.

“Sometimes we’ve had office staff members out driving the routes and filling in wherever we haven’t been able to get an operator scheduled,” Gnadt said.

Gnadt says he hopes to bring in at least 15 new drivers.

“As long as you’ve got a valid driver’s license, are over 21 and remain drug free, then we can train you to do everything else,” Gnadt said.

MTD officials say they hope they don’t have to cancel rides again, but are prepared to make some more cuts to rides if they don’t get enough interest.

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