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LA Metro Begins Reducing Bus, Rail Service Due To Staffing Shortage

LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) – The Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transit Authority began reducing bus and rail service Sunday due to a shortage of bus drivers and train operators.

A man hops on a METRO Red Line train
LOS ANGELES, CA - MAY 20: A man hops on a METRO Red Line train at North Hollywood Station on Thursday, May 20, 2021 in Los Angeles, CA. (Brian van der Brug / Los Angeles Times via Getty Images)

Metro said the reduction of operators has occurred due to a "perfect storm" that includes the national labor shortage, attrition greater than hiring and employees contracting COVID-19.

The Metro Board of Directors voted last month to reduce service due to operator shortages. Between Dec. 13 and Jan. 12, several bus lines had 20% or more of their trips cancelled due to the shortage.

Bus operators began to leave the agency at higher rates than they were being hired in July 2021. Since that time, 356 bus drives have left the agency and only 207 were hired.

According to Metro, reasons for people leaving include retirement, personal reasons, misconduct, new job acceptance and unsatisfactory performance.

Metro officials said the cancellations disproportionately impact "equity focused communities," particularly in South Los Angeles.

The agency aims to begin full service restoration in June. To hire additional bus drivers, Metro is considering increasing their pay from $17.75 to $19.12 an hour as a six month pilot.

The agency has about 3,119 bus operators, and needs to add an additional 448. It's also down 28 rail operators, with only 298 currently working as of Jan. 27.

In order for full service to be restored, Metro said it will need to have no more than 30 new COVID-19 cases per month among operators, have at least 3,677 bus operators and 326 rail operators, and reduce systemwide bus service cancellations to 2%, down from the current 10%-15%.

Several bus lines will run five to 10 minutes less frequently on average throughout the day and evening. The busiest bus lines will run every five to 15 minutes on weekdays, Metro said, and none of the lines are expected to run less than every hour.

Trains will run every 15 minutes instead of every 10 minutes during peak hours on the B/D (Red/Purple) lines. During off-peak hours and weekends, trains on those lines will run every 15 minutes instead of every 12 minutes. Evening service will remain every 20 minutes.

(© Copyright 2022 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. City News Service contributed to this report.)

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