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Metro Transit axes more routes as it tries to entice hundreds of new drivers

Metro Transit axes more routes as it tries to entice hundreds of new drivers
Metro Transit axes more routes as it tries to entice hundreds of new drivers 02:19

MINNEAPOLIS – It may soon take you a bit longer to get where you want to go in the Twin Cities.

Metro Transit tells WCCO they are reducing more routes, and the timing for the cut couldn't be worse.

Ambrose Younge is new to the job of driving a bus, but cruising right along.

"This my home on wheels for the time that I'm in possession of it, so welcome in, have a seat," Younge said.

The former banker was a victim of COVID cutbacks, so the busy father took the opportunity to completely switch gears.

"I'll be home by 5, the kids get home at 4. That's huge," he said. "Especially because I gotta get home, I gotta cook [laughs]! I gotta help with homework."

He's the type of hire Metro Transit is thrilled about. Just as their ridership is going back up, their staffing numbers are down. They are short 300 operators.

"The METRO Orange Line opened [to] huge success on 35W last December. We're already making service changes in the off-peak time that we don't want to make because we just don't have enough people coming into the organization right now," said Metro Transit CEO Brian Funk.

Metro Transit has cut third-quarters of their routes. Some buses that would be a 5- to 10-minute wait now require a 30-minute wait.

And then, there was a rider who was shot while sitting on a bus last week. WCCO asked Funk about the incident and safety in general.

"The likelihood of things happening is not high, it's not a daily occurrence," Funk said. "But it happens at a rate where we know we have to make investments."

They have cameras, plastic barriers for drivers, and they're putting an emphasis on de-escalation training.

"I tend to look at it this way. You know, people are getting shot everywhere. Those are one-off situations. That's not a regular occurrence," Younge said.

So he says he will concentrate on customer service, enjoy the $26-an-hour starting salary, and keep on rolling.

"You get to take care of people," Younge said.

In addition to the new starting wage, drivers can get a $3,000-$5,000 signing bonus. There's a hiring fair Wednesday.

Click here for a list of routes being affected by the new cuts.

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