CTS cancels Corvallis bus routes due to driver shortage

Michael+McDougal+waits+for+the+right+bus+as+lower+numbers+of+drivers+create+reduced+scheduled+buses+on+Sept.+19.+

Sabrina Dedek OMN Photographer

Michael McDougal waits for the right bus as lower numbers of drivers create reduced scheduled buses on Sept. 19.

Adriana Gutierrez, Reporter

Multiple Corvallis bus transit schedules changed this week, following a driver shortage with the contractors for Corvallis Transit Center.

CTS announced last week that several routes would be shortened and the late-night bus rides would be completely canceled in the weeks following Sept. 19, due to a shortage of bus drivers. 

Seattle-based MTR Western Inc. — who provides CTS with drivers and other various transit services — notified CTS that they were experiencing a shortage, leading CTS officials to reallocate remaining drivers. 

In doing so, CTS has canceled all weekend routes, as well as late-night routes, which typically run from 8:45 p.m. to 2:00 a.m., approximately. 

Suspending these services is a distressing decision, and we know it will have a significant impact on our transit user community,” said Patrick Rollens, Corvallis’s public information officer in a press release. “Serious and ongoing transit driver shortages have affected most transit agencies nationwide and is unprecedented in CTS history.”

In trying to mend the shortage, CTS officials have negotiated higher wages and bonuses for drivers, but have not yet seen drivers be receptive to their offers. The shortage is unprecedented, said Greg Grescher, Public Works assistant director for the City of Corvallis. 

“Experiencing these driver shortages is sort of a new thing for us,” Grescher said. “It’s something that other transit agencies are seeing across the country.”

Grescher and other city officials are meeting in the coming days to discuss where additional funding from CTS will be divided within MTR Western’s needs, in hopes to prioritize attracting prospective drivers. 

CTS officials anticipate services will come back as empty positions for drivers are filled. 

“We’re hoping this is a short-lived inconvenience,” Grescher said.

The Route 50, Route 5 Peak Service and Route 6 Peak Service routes are also canceled until further notice. Philomath Connection routes — including cancellations to all Saturday PC routes — were additionally altered. 

“We will continue to work towards bringing services back as soon as driver levels stabilize and allow for it,” Rollens said.

Corvallis residents should look to the CTS website for transit alerts as well as CTS social media accounts to be notified when services change.