Albany Transit System seeks to address driver shortage during ‘challenging’ circumstances

A shortage of bus drivers caused the closure of one Albany Transit System route this week. The system is looking to hire more drivers. (Courtesy of Albany Herald/FILE)

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A shortage of bus drivers caused the closure of one Albany Transit System route this week. The system is looking to hire more drivers. (Courtesy of Albany Herald/FILE)

Officials with the Albany Transit System say they are hoping to add to the department’s short roster of bus drivers, but the demand for drivers with commercial driver’s licenses is fierce and the city is competing against school systems and over-the-road driving companies.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, the shortage of drivers has ballooned with the American Trucking Association reporting a shortage of 80,000 drivers in 2021. That deficit is expected to grow.

Locally, some older drivers left the city due to fears related to COVID, Albany Transportation Director David Hamilton said. Earlier this week the transit system shut down its Blue Line for two days.

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“We are nine part-time drivers short, and we’re 11 full-time drivers short,” Hamilton said. “So, what that does to us is to make it very challenging to serve our routes.

“What happened the other day, of the drivers we do have, four of them had to be off Monday for medical reasons. Hopefully, this won’t last long.”

Prior to the emergence of COVID, the system had 23 full-time and eight or nine part-time drivers.

“Once that pandemic hit, we had people leave because they retired or they went elsewhere,” Hamilton said.

The system also has to compete for drivers with the Dougherty County School System and commercial operations that also are desperate for CDL license-holders.

The director said he was “excited” this week to learn that three applicants had shown up.

To deal with the shortage, the system is working to keep current drivers on their routes by making sure they have adequate breaks and rest time, and the city also is considering ways to hire more drivers.

Hamilton said he also has had discussions with Albany City Manager Steven Carter about pay and bonus initiatives to attract more applicants and keep existing drivers on the job.


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Credit: Albany Herald

Credit: Albany Herald

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