KC Metro’s ‘workforce shortage’ reduces service by over 250 trips

Sep 15, 2022, 11:58 AM | Updated: 12:30 pm

King County Metro trips...

(King County Metro, Facebook)

(King County Metro, Facebook)

Starting Saturday, Sept. 17, King County Metro buses will be making 250+ fewer trips getting people to work, attend school, out to bars and restaurants, or visit family during the week.

The change comes as a part of Metro’s semi-annual service change, which they do to “improve reliability and to better meet rider needs,” Al Sanders a Public Information Officer with King County Metro said.

Roughly 260-weekday trips have been deleted, with King County Metros citing its attempts to “address workforce shortages,” a line that has been repeated across industries as businesses try to get workers, especially low-wage, hourly workers, back in key positions.

The trips do not affect weekend trips, which will continue to operate as before.

Last year, MyNorthwest reported on the cancellation of 26 trip cancellations, calling it an “unusually high number of cancellations,” a number which is only a tenth of the current cancellation.

In the released update, details were included about how 69 routes would be adjusted, a vast majority of which had their service reduced. Out of the 162 routes that Metro runs, 58 are being reduced, with the Rapid Ride C reduced by 19 trips.

The updated service also adjusts for the opening of the West Seattle Bridge, which has been closed for more than two years and will once again allow drivers the day after the service changes, Sunday, Sept. 18.

Only one route, Route 303 from North Seattle to First Hill, will add any trips, with one additional weekday trip that officials say will “improve the span of service between routes 302 and 303.”

“Service levels following Sept. 17 will be comparable to where they are now. The minor updates in this semi-annual service change are trip-specific adjustments to improve reliability and to better meet rider needs,” Sanders wrote in a statement. “We’re especially committed to providing service to customers who count on Metro to get to their jobs every day or for other needs.”

Metro has said that they expect an uptick in ridership as students return to schools now that the teacher’s strike has ended, Seahawks and Mariners seasons get into full swing, and people learn more about the new Free Youth Transit Pass system.

Sound Transit’s ridership struggles to reach pre-pandemic levels

Metro currently has 2,500 bus operators and they are looking to hire an additional 62 full-time equivalents, a mix of part-time and full-time operators in order to get to the staffing levels needed to operate the bus transit system.

“We’re facing the same staffing challenges that all industries are currently dealing with,” Sanders said. “There are no extraordinary issues facing Metro in terms of hiring and we’re encouraging those interested in working for a great agency to go to kingcounty.gov/MetroCareers for more information.”

The schedule is likely to continue until the next service update, set to happen in March 2023, but the trip cancellations are currently listed as “indefinably.”

A full list of service changes, including the new schedule for the updated routes can be found on the King County Metro website.

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KC Metro’s ‘workforce shortage’ reduces service by over 250 trips