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MARTA routes changing because of labor shortage

Starting Dec. 18, many routes will switch to Saturday schedules with later starts in the morning and earlier end times in the evening

ATLANTA — Some MARTA routes are changing because they don't have enough bus drivers right now to work. The changes will shorten most MARTA routes schedules, switching them from a weekday schedule to a Saturday schedule where they'll start later in the morning, and end earlier at night.

"That means the very early routes that go out at 5 a.m. and continue until midnight, they won't see those trips," said Peter Bruno, senior director of operations, planning and controls for MARTA.

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MARTA rider, Larry Edwards said he was late to a doctor's appointment Friday morning because his 5:53 a.m. bus didn't show up and he had to wait until 6:17 a.m., a problem he said he has experienced for months.

"It's been like that ever since July, it's slowed me up because I was going to the VA hospital, you know," Edwards said.

In all, Bruno said the changes will adversely affect 2.2% of all riders, about 2,300 people. MARTA said it believes it's lost drivers because of two things: COVID safety concerns and the vaccine mandate it issued for workers starting this month. 

In all, MARTA is about 200 drivers short. Bruno said they haven't released the full list of routes affected, but said it's 96 out 113, meaning only 17 won't change. Bruno added many of the unchanged routes are the most popular. "Like route 5 that runs on Piedmont, the route on Buford Highway, Campbellton Road, those are important routes, they're going to stay on weekday," he said.

MARTA is hoping to fill these positions quickly so they're hosting a job fair next Saturday, Nov. 20 at headquarters. They will be hiring drivers as well as mechanics, and Bruno said they will consider a quick hiring process to put people in place.

They are also in the process of an equity analysis on the changes, and that result should be out next week.

Bruno said they will start adding back full routes as soon as they have people to drive them.

"We have a prioritized list of routes, so as trends develop and we see a ramping up of the work force, we're gonna get to those routes right away," said Bruno.

And while Edwards said he doesn't like the idea of routes changing,  he would rather that if it means knowing his ride is coming on time.

"I'd rather for it come at a certain time, that way, you know, it won't inconvenience me," said Edwards


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