In response to a lack of workers, the Mountain Line public bus system in Missoula will have to adjust its routes.
"COVID-19 has changed our community on many levels,” said Mountain Line CEO and general manager Corey Aldridge. “Like many other workplaces right now, we are facing difficulty in recruiting suitable employees. Making these slight adjustments to schedules allows us to continue serving riders without major disruptions.”
The bus system needs a minimum of 50 full-time bus operators to provide its regular service, he said. Currently, the agency has 41 full-time drivers with five more in varying stages of training.
The frequency of Routes 1 and 2 will go from having a bus arrive every 15 minutes at each stop to 20 minutes. Routes 8 and 12 will also have adjusted schedules until further notice. Mountain Line is free for all riders.
Aldridge said they're actively recruiting drivers for the next training class beginning on Nov. 1.
“We are seeking individuals committed to safety and exceptional customer service, not necessarily those with previous transit experience,” Aldridge explained. “A career with Mountain Line is about serving Missoula to benefit us all, with the opportunity to learn public transportation from the ground up.”
The organization offers paid training, including the process of earning a commercial driver's license, he said. They also offer benefits and contribute to an employee health account, a retirement pension fund and gym membership fees.