MARTA blames dozens of trip cancellations on staffing shortages, ‘absenteeism’

MARTA officials say ongoing staffing shortages are to blame for dozens of trip cancellations on bus routes across metro Atlanta. For some residents, who rely on the public transportation authority it’s become a big headache.

"Sometimes it comes, sometimes it don’t…this is on a regular basis," rider Lisa Henry said.

For her and other metro Atlanta residents who use the MARTA bus system each day, it’s not unusual to see canceled trips on the schedule.

"Just about every day…the 50 route has a problem…either it’s canceled or they’re running late," rider Frank Glaze told FOX 5.

Dozens of cancellation alerts can be seen on the transit authority’s website and social media pages. Glaze recalled several instances of having to find another way home from work after realizing the bus he was waiting on wasn’t coming.

"You might have to call an Uber or a Lyft and if the person doesn’t have the money they’re stuck…they gotta walk all the way home," he explained.

MARTA officials reported cancellations of as many as 10% of trips each month this year.

While the agency reported being staffed at 95% with just 84 vacancies and 203 operators in training, officials said the trip cancelations are the result of increased absenteeism among drivers for reasons ranging from sick calls to no shows.

"I believe it," Henry told FOX 5.

Riders said they want to see those vacancies filled.

"Hire more people, give better wages...(and) maybe they would keep the people that they hire," Henry contended.

A statement from MARTA reads in part:

"MARTA is using every recruiting tool available to get operator staffing levels up to meet service demand and has hired 376 bus operators this year."

Officials said the transit authority has also hired additional management staff to keep track of driver availability and minimize absenteeism.

A MARTA spokesperson told FOX 5 the transit authority continues to hold bi-monthly job fairs to recruit bus operators and technicians. They also offer a sign-on bonus and provide commercial driver’s license training.