COVID-19 sidetracks MARTA serviceFILE PHOTO: A MARTA bus at the Decatur, GA MARTA station. File Photo by: Dan Whisenhunt
Atlanta, GA — If you’re using public transit this week, it will be an adventure thanks to COVID-19.
MARTA’s train trips and bus rides have been off schedule due to nearly 100 employees contracting COVID-19.
“Select train trips may be canceled because of staffing shortages due to COVID-19,” MARTA said in a post on Twitter. “Customers are advised to allow extra time to complete their trips. Please register for service alerts to be informed of future train cancelations.”
As of Jan. 5, there were 13 rail operators and 7 rail supervisors out due to COVID-19.
MARTA has 4,137 employees. The agency requires 88 rail operators a day to cover seven days a week.
There were 13 lost rail trips over the last seven days and eight delays.
Bus trips have also been canceled, with the agency reporting 192 missed trips on Jan. 3. Those may not all be related to COVID-19, as MARTA currently is unable to separate canceled trips by staffing, accidents or mechanical failures.
The transit agency reports 76 bus operators were out due to COVID-19. There were also 239 bus operators out for non-COVID related reasons. The agency is also dealing with a shortage of bus drivers and has 286 vacancies to fill. The agency needs 600 operators available a day to adequately staff bus services.
Here’s a chart showing the number of missed bus trips from Dec. 18 to Jan. 3:
MARTA spokesperson Stephany Fisher said, “[Bus] trips are canceled for any number of reasons to include: Operator Availability, Mechanical, and Service Interruption Incidents. A trip is canceled when we exhaust the available roster of qualified Bus Operators. … We do everything we can not to cancel trips.”
When asked about why MARTA is unable to adequately staff its routes with the remainder of its employees, she noted that there are shifts and breaks to account for.
“MARTA bus service runs almost 24 hours a day seven days a week, with several different shifts,” Fisher said. “When scheduling operators, we must account for absences due to COVID, exposure to COVID, other illness, FMLA, worker’s comp, vacation time, childcare issues, day of sick calls, and absenteeism which has increased significantly during COVID. We must also provide two regularly scheduled days off per week per operator.”
Fisher said the best way for customers to plan their trip is to check @MARTAservice on Twitter or use the MARTA On the Go app and register for service alerts. To register for the service alerts, visit: https://itsmarta.com/service-updates.aspx
MARTAConnect – the transit agency’s partnership with Uber and Lyft – is available to customers as well to help fill in service gaps. It can be accessed by clicking here.
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