Needed: Extra bus drivers now

Welcome to The Mobile City, our weekly round-up of remarkable traffic developments.

Bus driver shortage plays with public transport across the country

The pandemic’s recovery has been hampered by one major problem: the shortage of virtually everything from raw materials to people. And the shortage of workers also includes the shortage of bus drivers.

In the partner cities WCCO reports that Metro Transit had to cancel around 200 bus trips last weekend due to a lack of drivers. The agency has increased entry-level wages for bus drivers to more than $ 21 an hour and is offering signing bonuses to help fill vacancies faster. No commercial driver’s license? No problem: Metro Transit will also cover the costs of training the drivers so that 100 positions can be filled immediately.

Meanwhile, Colorado Public Radio reports that despite a surge in passenger numbers, Denver’s Regional Transportation District (RTD) will not move to restore service to pre-pandemic levels as it lacks the bus and rail operators it needs to do more than humble ones To implement service increases. The article notes that the area’s fast food restaurants are hiring near the $ 20 an hour new RTD drivers make, and Lance Longebohn, head of the Amalgamated Transit Union (ATU), the most RTD bus and train operators, noted that these jobs are less stressful than driving overcrowded buses through traffic.

And the Oregonian reports that Tri-Met in Portland is experiencing similar driver hiring issues as passenger numbers recover there. Like Metro Transit, Tri-Met had to cancel bus trips due to the driver shortage. Both Tri-Met officials and heads of Tri-Met’s local ATU note, the agency is facing stiff competition for drivers from package delivery companies and other transportation and logistics companies. Bill Bradley, a member of the ATU Local 757 board of directors, told The Oregonian that drivers are also leaving Tri-Met to find less stressful work elsewhere: and be able to make more money elsewhere, ”he said.

The move away from Tri-Met: increased attacks on drivers. Since the pandemic began, physical and verbal attacks on drivers in Portland have more than quadrupled, from 0.41 per 100,000 trips to 1.75 per 100,000. According to the agency, about 27 drivers and 40 maintenance workers are currently lacking the number they need for the current service.

Pittsburgh plans street diet for major thoroughfares along with improvements in traffic

We have come a long way since 2004, as a The Onion Parody article focused on the toil of a Pittsburgh city planner who was “stuck in rush hour traffic of his own kind.”

The frustrated fictional planner told the story The Onion, how wider highways would have eased his pain, and cursed himself for recommending that land in “a restricted-access waterway confluence” be rededicated for commercial use.

Today, part of this “accessible” waterfront is moving crowds of Pittsburghers to a former warehouse district that has become an entertainment zone. And to improve mobility for anyone coming to the Strip District, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports that the city’s Ministry of Mobility and Infrastructure is making a main street much more pedestrian-friendly.

According to the article, vehicle lanes are being cut in half on a 20-block stretch of Liberty Avenue in the Strip District to create bike lanes and turn lanes. Also part of the plan: improved zebra crossings, improved traffic lights with pedestrian pushbuttons, improved accessibility for people with disabilities and larger, more comfortable stops for the Port Authority of Allegheny County’s buses.

The city is currently collecting feedback from the public on the planned improvements, which come at a cost of $ 6.2 million. The city plans to start construction in the summer of 2023.

And this isn’t the only project in Pittsburgh that aims to improve mobility and access for those away from the car. Another PG article describes both short-term and long-term improvements that the Port Authority is aiming for in their system.

At short notice, the Agency’s Performance Oversight Committee recommended that the Port Authority’s board of directors hire construction managers for a US $ 230 million bus-suburban train line that connects the Golden Triangle with the University District in Oakland. In the meantime, his planning and stakeholder relations committee recommended that the board adopt the “NEXTransit” plan, a 25-year package of $ 4 billion of 18 projects that includes the expansion of the existing light rail network and the Martin Luther King Jr as well as the addition of a new transit corridor connecting the Strip District, Oakland, Hazelwood and Carrick.

The entire board of the Port Authority will consider both recommendations at its meeting on September 24th.

GM urges Chevy Bolt owners to create social distance between their cars and others

Comes from The Detroit News News of the rest of the aftermath of General Motors’ collision with a speed bump en route to a zero-emission vehicle future.

The aftermath is related to battery fires that led GM to recall all Chevy Bolt electric vehicles currently on the road. According to the story, a concerned Bolt owner worried about whether he could safely park his car in a parking garage prompted the company to advise Bolt owners to keep their vehicles at least 15 meters away from any other vehicle in an outdoor area to park. The company also advised owners not to leave their cars unattended in parking lots or garage charging stations for electric vehicles.

These new recommendations follow recommendations that Bolt owners should charge their batteries no more than 90 percent, charge them more frequently, avoid draining the batteries below 70 miles of remaining juice, and park them outside.

The recall and recommendations go back to a “rare” manufacturing defect that previously resulted in 12 bolts going up in flames. There are currently 141,000 bolts on the road. Production of GM’s only electric vehicle has also ceased while automaker and battery supplier LG Energy Solution tries to figure out how the defect came about, how to fix it, and who should take over how much of the tab to repair the cars. (The total cost for this is $ 1.8 billion.) GM will replace the defective battery packs in current bolts.

The advice will no doubt worry Bolt owners who, like most motorists, try to park their cars as close as possible to the entrance of wherever they are going.

Do you know of any traffic development that should be presented in this column? Send a tweet with links to @MarketStEl using the hashtag #mobilecity.

Sandy Smith, editor of Next City, is the home and real estate editor for Philadelphia Magazine. Over the years his work has appeared in Hidden City Philadelphia, the Philadelphia Inquirer, and other local and regional publications. His interest in cities dates back to his youth in Kansas City, as well as his career in journalism and media work.

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