TriMet says its bus drivers should no longer deny fare evaders access to the bus.

TriMet will reduce service to some of it's bus routes on Jan. 9.

Alan Sylvestre / OPB

During what the Portland area’s largest transit agency has described as its most severe staffing shortage to date, TriMet is reducing service for 20 bus lines by nearly 10%.

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The temporary reduction starts Jan. 9. TriMet spoksperson Tia York said the decision was made because buses were failing to arrive on time because of a shortage of drivers.

“We’re actually hopeful that this service reduction will help improve the experience some of our riders have been encountering while they’re out on the system,” York said. “And that is that their busses don’t arrive because we don’t have operators to drive them.”

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All TriMet routes, including buses, light rail and commuter rail, have already been operating at reduced capacity since the start of the pandemic.

This new reduction will bring some of the bus routes to about a 20% reduction compared to pre-pandemic times.

York said people who want to know how this will affect their commute should use the “Plan your trip” tool on TriMet’s website and set the dates for after Jan. 9.

“At this time we are not eliminating any bus lines, and most of these 20 lines will see temporary service reductions to weekday service,” York said.

TriMet currently has 45 bus operator positions open.

“There’s a national labor shortage and a lot of the jobs that are having trouble filling the vacancies are those that are customer focused,” York said. “And what could be more customer focused and then a bus operator?”

To attract workers, TriMet has increased rates by $4 an hour and is offering a $2,500 signing bonus.

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