Wichita Falls suffering from bus driver shortage

Published: Aug. 4, 2021 at 8:40 PM CDT
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WICHITA FALLS, Texas (KAUZ) - The amount of bus drivers in Wichita Falls is dropping fast. This is the second time there has been a bus driver shortage within a year, and experts say this one is worse than the previous.

“In my 30 years with the city, I have never seen anything like this,” John Burrus, Director of Transportation in Wichita Falls, said. “There are just so many different things that are coming together right here that it really makes it very difficult to hire and retain bus staff.”

The issues that are causing the shortage include lack of pay, COVID cases increasing again and difficulties with obtaining a commercial driver’s license. Experts said it takes longer to get a CDL than it use to.

“They are going to have to get more drivers,” Janna Thompson, City of Wichita Falls bus driver, said. “In order to do that, they are going to have to pay more money. I mean this is the lowest paying job right now, I can go to McDonald’s and make more money.”

Since they are having a shortage of bus drivers, the city is having to cut bus routes on Saturdays.

“That is majorly going to affect the passengers because they don’t have any other way to go to the store or to get out,” Thompson said.

“At this point, we are just going to have to address it weekend by weekend,” Burrus said. “If you ask me today how long Saturday service will be cancelled, I can not tell you the answer to that right now.”

The city is accepting job applications. Burrus said they have a great training program so if you do not have your CDL, do not let that stop you from applying. Their staff will be able to train you and help you get your license.

“My staff is frustrated,” Burrus said. “They hate failing the public but that is exactly what you are seeing here, is our inability to deliver a public service simply because we do not have the staff to do it.”

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