CENTRE COUNTY, Pa. (WTAJ) — Three CATABUS routes in Centre County have been temporarily suspended due to severe staffing shortages.
Beginning Monday, September 20, the suspended routes will include CATABUS F (Pine Grove), G (Gray’s Woods), and S (Science Park). Additionally, beginning Monday October 4, P Route (Boalsburg) service will end at 7:00 p.m. and the N, R, V, W, and HM routes will drop to hourly after 7:00 p.m.
Kimberly Fragola, assistant executive director for operations at the Centre Area Transportation Authority (CATA), said the ridership on these suspended routes was very low.
“We were averaging seven, eight people per day, so less than 10 people average per day on those routes,” said Fragola.
Meanwhile, they say other bus stops are so busy, they often have to leave riders behind.
“We have other places in the community where full busses are pulling away and leaving 20 or 30 [people] at the curb,” said Fragola.
Drivers from the suspended routes will pick up these locations instead. CATA said there’s simply not enough hands on the wheel to fully accommodate all locations.
“We had, since the end of July, lost nearly 20% of our drivers, between the end of July and now,” said Fragola.
Right now, CATA has 89 drivers. They expected 109.
Multiple employees tell WTAJ, the shortage has made for poor working conditions, with little rest or vacation time. Employees in different departments have had to fill-in to help cover routes.
“We have people from administrative positions and mechanics that are driving the buses,” said Fragola.
If community members relied on CATABUS F, G, or S, accommodations can be made.
“We encourage them to call in and we’ll help them figure something out,” said Fragola.
As a hiring incentive, CATA said they’re offering a $3,000 bonus for those who already have a commercial driving license (CDL). Those without a CDL will receive a $1,500 bonus and free training.