CHARLOTTE (QUEEN CITY NEWS) — Charlotte Area Transit Officials announced routes will soon face cuts as driver shortages continue.
Data from CATS shows as of late June, the transit system is short at least 74 drivers and each day CATS averages about 81 unplanned absences or sick calls. Officials say they’re also dealing with the pandemic, planned vacations, childcare issues, and leaves of absence.
“This is not just about the short-term reduction in service, but also how do we provide the most up to date information to our passengers, CATS CEO John Lewis said.
While CATS leaders sort out their ongoing problems with staffing and service, passengers plan for delays on their trips daily, especially on weekends.
“Now you gotta leave the house two hours early to catch the bus to get to work early,” rider AJ Jones said.
Lewis says routes will start getting cut by mid-August. He says a team will analyze the ridership trends of each route to find out what will get cut.
“We have trips that average more than 20 to 30 riders an hour,” CEO Lewis said. “Those are not the trips we will target for reductions.”
To make up for the shoddy service officials will partner with Uber and Lyft to give riders discounts to get where they need to go. Transit systems in Los Angeles and Vegas have similar partnerships.
District 3 Charlotte City Councilwoman Victoria Watlington says the city should get creative to keep up with industry changes.
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“How do we get people moved in a way that is more efficient and more economically and environmentally friendly?” Watlington asked. “Where are we servicing people? Are we servicing routes that people who utilize the bus system and rely on it are able to continue to get where they need to go?”
Some riders say Uber and Lyft could be helpful, but some riders may not be familiar with rideshare.
“It’s good for like the younger kids and people in their 20s and 30s, but other people are already in their 40s 50s probably not as helpful for them,” CATS rider Mimi said.
Whether rideshare, bus or rail, riders say they just want a consistent transit system.
“It’s messing up people’s jobs,” Jones said. “They’re little jobs, but they need to get to work before they get fired.”
Transit officials will meet Thursday, July 14 to continue discussing route reductions, by July 27 they expect to have a more concrete plan for what routes will get cut.
A CATS Spokesman did not respond to Queen City News’ questions about further details for route reductions and who would qualify for Uber and Lyft discounts, and how much CATS would pay.