Solving the Bus Driver Shortage

Episode summary

00:00:00 | Intro
00:01:37 | Why drivers are leaving
00:05:38 | Driver safety concerns
00:14:01 | Transit ambassadors
00:21:26 | Shift schedules
00:31:12 | Employment requirements
00:41:41 | New hire conditions
00:47:03 | Wages
00:52:45 | Metro Transit’s most powerful recruitment tool
00:57:24 | A more robust system is more resilient
01:01:17 | Outro

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Attributions

Our theme song is Tanz den Dobberstein, and our interstitial song is Puck’s Blues. Both tracks used by permission of their creator, Erik Brandt. Find out more about his band The Urban Hillbilly Quartet on their website.

This episode was hosted and edited by Ian R Buck, with transcript by the indominable Mike Allen. Christy Marsden is our awesome guest booker, and technical assistance is provided by the super professional Brian Mitchell. If you’re able to help make sure this team gets paid for the hard work they do, please consider donating. We really appreciate it!

Copyright

The Streets.mn Podcast is released under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives license. Feel free to republish the episode as long as you don’t alter it and you aren’t profiting from it.

Transcript

Ian: [00:00:03] Welcome to the Streets.mn podcast, the show where we shape transportation and land use to make our world a better place. Coming to you from beautiful Frogtown Saint Paul, Minnesota, I am your host, Ian R. Buck. Today we’re going to be delving into the bus driver shortage and what we can do to fix it. Find the show notes and a transcript of the episode at [https://streets.mn]. So today’s episode, we’re going to have a bit of a different format than usual, and I’m kind of excited about it. Here in the studio with me today, I have Adrianna Jereb. She’s back! Transit advocate Adri. We’re going to be listening to some other interviews that I already conducted and we’re going to be commentating on them together here in real time.

Adrianna: [00:00:48] Yeah, it’ll be interesting. I haven’t heard the interviews,

Ian: [00:00:51] Right. Yeah.

Adrianna: [00:00:51] So I’m like, Yeah.

Ian: [00:00:53] I have. I am way too familiar with these now because I so I interviewed Brian Funk, the chief operating officer at Metro Transit, and I also interviewed Ryan Timlin, who’s the president of ATU Local 1005 and I interviewed them separately. So we don’t have them like trying to.

Adrianna: [00:01:14] Yeah, it’s not a debate.

Ian: [00:01:15] Exactly. Yeah.

Ian: [00:01:18] But I ask them mostly, you know, like the same questions, similar topics and you know, we’ll be listening to those. I kind of cut them together so that we’re listening to the topics all as a whole. And then then we’ll be talking about that. Are you ready?

Adrianna: [00:01:34] Yeah, I’m ready. Let’s go.

Ian: [00:01:36] All right. So the first thing I wanted to touch on here was asking them, why do we know why operators are leaving? You know, because like the math on, like why we have a bus driver shortage is just like, okay, how many people do we have coming in? Minus how many people do we have leaving? And when you have more people leaving, like.

Adrianna: [00:01:55] That’s that’s how a shortage gets made, I guess.

Ian: [00:01:58] Exactly. Exactly. So we’re going to we’re going to touch on both of those both parts of that equation. So here’s here’s Brian from Metro Transit.

Brian: [00:02:05] First, I will acknowledge that we are trying to get better at exit interviews, but one of the kind of the leading cause historically for us has been in two key areas: One would be retirements. So the end of a long vested career, which is great for that individual, we aren’t looking to hold people back after 25, 30, 35, sometimes more than 40 years in their role. So that’s one of the key areas. And then the second, as I talked about before, is movement into other roles in the organization. And so we’re happy about that because some of those benefits, it serves all areas of the organization really well. But of course it leaves that void of somebody who has taken… They’ve made an investment. We’ve made an investment into all of the training that goes into getting somebody started and oriented and making sure that they’re a good fit for operating the vehicles and then interacting with our customers and making sure that that goes off really well. So those are the two key areas. In addition to that, we of course know that there are a whole other list of miscellaneous reasons. Sometimes your schedules are chosen based on your work status full time or part time, what schedules are available when it becomes your time in a seniority order to make those selections. And, you know, life’s changed and sometimes the schedules aren’t able to align. And so unfortunately we’ve had to separate with some employees for that reason and we welcome them back when it does work better. But kind of as, as you know and as folks, most of your readers who are really into transit know we need to be out there when people are using our service. And and so we’re often especially our front line staff are often working nights, weekends when other people are not at their office because they’re traveling with us. And so sometimes that has can be one of the pinch points. And then frankly, there have been some other opportunities out there. Now, the information that I see and reasons that are given don’t don’t suggest that we’re losing a large number of people to other commercial driving opportunities. But we know that there are some and that’s a reality. It’s been a reality for as long as I’ve been in the in the business. But one of the areas that we’re working to try to shore up is making sure that our pay is as competitive as it needs to be and that it’s high enough to recognize what is a good career, but at times has its challenges. 

[00:04:57] [Music]

Ian: [00:04:57] The thing that I’ll say about the retirements thing is, as I was doing research before I interviewed them, a lot of like transit associations, like they they have populations of drivers that are on the whole getting much older. So we’ve got a lot of people who are like approaching retirement age, which is like good for them as individuals, awesome. But also like, you know, that means that we, we need to be like attracting new talent.

Adrianna: [00:05:24] Right. 

Ian: [00:05:24] Into the organization, because otherwise we’re just like all of a sudden everybody’s retiring. We have no bus drivers. So we’ll get to attracting new talent later. But yeah, before I play Ryan, I was very surprised that like before I even started asking him any questions, he started talking about safety concerns.

Adrianna: [00:05:45] Oh.

Ian: [00:05:46] Of drivers. Yeah. So that’s, that’s where we’re starting with him here on on why people might be leaving.

Ryan: [00:05:52] Sometimes it feels like they’ve put more emphasis on addressing the number of police officers than bus operators. Yeah, there’s growing issues out there in the system and that’s one of the things that has made it difficult is the growing problems on the system. But that’s also that’s still a lot of complexities, that basically almost is happening on some level is because there’s not enough homeless shelters anymore. There’s not enough assistance to deal with drug addiction out there. It’s spilling. And when COVID happened, you had a mass exodus of a population that rode these these buses and trains. When those vehicles sat empty. And when I’m saying this, I want to make it clear I’m not attacking homeless population and I’m not attacking those with drug issues. I’m trying to point out the societal issues that are spilling out into our system and pointing out our members are not social workers and are having to be thrust into these situations. And there’s no safety net to address these situations right now. And that’s the bigger problem. The safety nets are gone in society. They’ve been disappearing for a long time. If there was a safety net there to address this, it would help alleviate the the pains that are going on in the transit system. And that would resolve some of the issues, not all of the issues. That’s just one aspect of what is why people some people are leaving the company. And I don’t know if Metro Transit’s told you the exact numbers, but it’s not just bus operations we’re hurting in. It’s in maintenance. We’re low. We represent the entire transit workforce that make Metro transit run. So like the call center, TIC, Transit Information Center, the Customer Relations, we have members in that division. We, our members clean the platforms. Our members maintain the mechanics and maintenance for the the buses and trains. We’re short in all all those divisions as well, too. So that’s some of what it is. But we’re also short in some of these other areas as well, too.

Ian: [00:08:09] And Brian, of course, brought up the Safety and Security Action Plan.

Brian: [00:08:13] We have our Safety and Security Action Plan that we initiated in June, which is really enormously geared towards what we’ve been hearing from employees about changes that they’d like to see, pilot programs that we’d like to attempt, additional support that they’re looking for, and and those things are happening as well.

Ian: [00:08:36] So yeah, I made sure to ask Ryan about CROs as well.

Ryan: [00:08:39] It could have a positive impact, but I think more what would have a positive impact is people on the system riding it. The more people are there, the less likely the criminal element will go away because it doesn’t want to be visible element.

Adrianna: [00:09:00] Wow. There is a lot to unpack.

Ian: [00:09:01] Oh yeah, yeah, yeah. I feel like I should be taking notes, honestly.

Adrianna: [00:09:06] Yeah. Well, I think that one of the things that Ryan said that Metro Transit invests a lot in their police.

Ian: [00:09:14] Right.

Adrianna: [00:09:15] And it’s not it’s not a solution. I also they’re I’m like very interested in the budget of Metro Transit. And right now Metro Transit Police is going to have an $11 million surplus in their budget for 2022. Like they also have a hiring shortage basically. And it’s super frustrating to see like in the safety and security plan that Metro Transit came up with. They’re like their proposed solution is basically cut service because that’ll especially like one of the things they suggested was like, well, let’s just not run buses late at night because then there can’t be any security issues at night. And it’s just like, okay, well, that’s kind of a problem if I need to get home at night.

Ian: [00:10:04] And especially like Ryan said, like when you when you have more people riding the bus, then you’re going to have fewer security issues because, you know, there’s just like there’s there’s this critical mass of people. There’s more people, you know. So, like, it’s less likely that any one person is going to behave because they’re surrounded by other people who like, are going to witness that.

Adrianna: [00:10:25] Yeah,

Ian: [00:10:26] Yeah,

Adrianna: [00:10:26] Yeah. I think that’s been I mean, I think there’s like multiple factors because of the pandemic where like less people have been using transit, so…

Ian: [00:10:38] Mm hmm. Yeah.

Adrianna: [00:10:38] Like it’s kind of more evident that, you know, if there’s somebody who’s, like, struggling with an addiction or like, whatever the issue is, like, that’s going to be more obvious because, like, there are fewer people around, but also like, there are fewer people to help, just like create a safe social environment. The other thing that Ryan said that I think was really good that he pointed out was like, these are much bigger problems than an issue with the transit system, but it shows up here. And so it’s like, okay, well, what should the transit authority be doing to actually like help with these problems? Because it’s, to me, very frustrating to see, like people in leadership at Metro Transit or at the Metropolitan Council say like, oh, well, you know, that’s not our it’s not our problem. We didn’t create homelessness like but like the Metropolitan Council does do a lot of stuff with public housing.

Ian: [00:11:35] Yeah. Yeah.

Adrianna: [00:11:35] So it’s like they do have responsibility in this situation for some like for coming up with solutions.

Ian: [00:11:42] Right. 

Adrianna: [00:11:42] Yeah.

Ian: [00:11:42] Yeah. And I found it very refreshing to see like, you know, somebody in his position of, like OC he’s the president of of the union. So it would be very like I would not have been surprised if he was like laser focused on like we got to talk about the contract and like, you know, the working conditions and everything. But like he is recognizing that, oh, there’s a lot of other resources that need to be, you know, at like the county levels and at the Met Council level, like you said, you know, like addressing the needs of folks who end up on the metro transit system because they have nowhere else to go.

Adrianna: [00:12:18] Yeah. And I think, too, it’s like sometimes people get upset with the fact that, like, someone who’s unhoused is going to be on transit or like they’re they’re like, it’s not right that this is where people end up. And I agree. It’s like it’s not it’s not adequate shelter or anything.

Ian: [00:12:35] Right.

Adrianna: [00:12:35] But I also see, like, you know, why can’t this be a space where we are providing more resources to people and instead of turning to cops to like kick people off of the system, like, why can’t we have, you know, in a very visionary sense, but like, why can’t we have, like, food distribution at at transit stops or like just, you know, getting people the things that they need, like where they’re actually at?

Ian: [00:13:00] Yeah, I would love to see like, I don’t know, the light rail stations becoming like more like a destination with like stuff that’s there that people might need, you know, like, oh, maybe like, even if it’s just like, like I can buy some snacks while I’m, like, waiting for the train or something like that, you know?

Adrianna: [00:13:19] Yeah. Just having, like having a more welcoming space. 

Ian: [00:13:22] Right.

Adrianna: [00:13:22] I don’t see, I don’t see what would be bad about that. Yeah.

Ian: [00:13:25] Yeah. Like it, it should be more integrated into, like, the fabric of our urban environment, you know? Rather than like kind of being this, this closed off. And of course, you know, it only people who have bought a valid fare can like be on the station.

Adrianna: [00:13:42] Yeah. Yeah. You know, we’ve kind of gotten into the weeds of all of the transit system, but.

Ian: [00:13:47] Oh, absolutely.

Adrianna: [00:13:48] Yeah, I think I think too. I mean, I don’t know if we’ll kind of get back to this too, but. Okay, it looks like it’s kind of on the agenda of like starting wages and stuff like that. So. 

Ian: [00:13:58] Yesyesyes. 

Adrianna: [00:13:58] I’ll hold my thoughts.

Ian: [00:14:01] I knew that you were going to want to hear some thoughts on the ambassador program. Yeah. So I asked Ryan about that. I ran out of time while I was talking to Brian. So I only have the the union leader’s thoughts on this.

Ryan: [00:14:13] For how massive the overall system is. I think, you know, you’d have to in order to have a fully functioning thing like that, you’d have to have like the old school system of the engineer and the conductor. I think that’s the only way for that to really be fully effective, because you’d have to have it on every car and system for it to really work out with the fare, you know. So a lot of that’s being turned into external paying and a lot of the routes they have. So some of that is already shifting over to where it’s less and less responsibility, like the C line and the A line. They’re developing more of those routes. Some of that is is taking care of the the fare issue for the operators. To be honest, there’s so many corporations out there not paying taxes. If you got those corporations to pay those taxes, that could cover a transit system and you could have a free system where anybody you don’t have to worry about the fare. You just get on the bus, go where you need to go. There’d be a there be enough money out there. They probably have fully funded routes and everything, getting people wherever they need to go in the system. 

[00:15:20] [music]

Ian: [00:15:20] Yeah. I had kind of prefaced that by talking about, like, the friction that’s caused when like, you know, the operator has to be the one who’s, like, insisting that a person pay a fare.

Adrianna: [00:15:32] Yeah.

Ian: [00:15:32] When they get on.

Adrianna: [00:15:32] Yeah, I can’t. I’m like, who was I just talking to about this the other day? I think I was talking to Amity about this. Like where when you have drivers responsible for enforcing fares or letting people on, it’s like just a perfect storm for discrimination because it’s like then it’s up to this individual to decide, you know, am I going to let this person ride for free or am I not allowing them on the bus? And like what Ryan just said, like, I really like I like talking to Ryan. I’m just like I think he makes a super good point of like, why are we hyper focused on what we can’t let someone on the bus if they didn’t pay their $2.50 when it’s like exactly what Ryan said of like we’ve got major corporations out there who skip on their taxes and it costs us like millions and billions of dollars. Like, why are we so worried about this very small thing that actually doesn’t pay for very much of running the transit system? It’s I think this year it was like 11% of running metro transit is paid by fares.

Ian: [00:16:31] Okay.

Adrianna: [00:16:32] Which is not, you know, it’s not nothing, but it’s also like not the majority at all.

Ian: [00:16:37] Well, yeah. So that, that sounds like it’s about on par with like, you know, Kansas City before they went completely free transit service. I think about they had about 10% of their of their budget was from fare box recovery. And you know if like if they were able to go completely free and find that money somewhere else, move some resources around, like I feel like we could do it.

Adrianna: [00:17:06] I think it is, you know, it’s it’s something that people like, you know, some people think like that’s impossible. How could we have free transit? It’d be it’d be too expensive. And it’s like, well, most of our highways are free to drive on. Like, you don’t you don’t have to pay a toll for most of our highways. All of that is paid for out of our taxes. And I don’t know. I think there’s like, you know, it just depends on like, what are our priorities? Are we going to make the decision that this is a priority? Like this is what’s good for our climate, it’s good for providing people access to jobs and healthcare and education. Like why should $2.50 like stand in the way of you getting to school? You know.

Ian: [00:17:44] And and honestly, it would solve some of the it would address some of the other issues that we’ve talked about as well of like, you know, having more people riding is going to make the experience better, you know, especially from like a from a safety perspective. Right?? And, you know, as we know, like when you make transit free or, you know, much, much cheaper, like people are going to take a lot more rides for for like short trips that maybe otherwise they would have been like, well, I’ll take my bike instead because like, why would I pay $2 to like go a quarter mile…

Adrianna: [00:18:19] Yeah.

Ian: [00:18:19] Or something like that, you know? 

Adrianna: [00:18:20] Yeah.

Ian: [00:18:21] Or it’s just like it removes that entire like having to think about whether money is going to be a factor.

Adrianna: [00:18:28] Yeah. And I think I wish I knew the exact data on this, but there’s some like pretty strong evidence that like most of the trips people are taking are very short trips. It’s like you’re running an errand or like stopping by, you know, somebody who lives near you, things like that. So in those cases, sometimes people like are put in that position of like, well, should I just walk a mile?

Ian: [00:18:50] Right.

Adrianna: [00:18:51] And save save a little money? And if it was free, you wouldn’t like, people could save time and not have to, like, weigh those options.

Ian: [00:18:59] Right. I don’t have to think about like whether I’ve passed the two and a half hour, you know, transfer window.

Adrianna: [00:19:04] Yeah.

Ian: [00:19:04] Yeah.

Adrianna: [00:19:05] Yeah. And oh, one other thing I was going to say is like the idea of having, I think it’s a great idea, to have transit ambassadors of some kind, who are focused on customer service. Kind of that like like a a conductor like Ryan was talking about for the trains especially. And, you know, even if we can’t get free fares overnight, just starting with like if we just stopped enforcing fares, it could I mean, it could be a step towards that. I think it would also mean that we could focus our energy like Metro Transit staff, whether they’re police or just staff, focus their energy on actually providing like providing customer service rather than checking fares.

Ian: [00:19:48] Yeah.

Adrianna: [00:19:48] Yeah.

Ian: [00:19:49] Yeah. And I would like to push back on something that he said that like, well, you would have to have one of those ambassadors on every single bus, in every single train in order for it to be effective. I feel like there’s there’s like a certain percentage that you probably just need to put them on in order for it to be like, you know, for customers to realize,”Oh, I’m probably going to run into an ambassador when I need one.”

Adrianna: [00:20:12] Right. Yeah, I think.

Ian: [00:20:14] But we’re not like doubling the staffing of the entire operator. You know?

Adrianna: [00:20:18] There’s there’s like pretty good models from other cities of like, how many ambassadors? You should have right per number of riders and with some volunteers. I remember we came up with the idea that like if we had 20 full time transit ambassadors for that would be like a good number to start with.

Ian: [00:20:38] That’s not very many at all.

Adrianna: [00:20:39] It’s not too many. Right? It’s like, you know, you could have people riding pretty regularly and of course, you wouldn’t have people on every train. But like I think you would. I think it would be really good

Ian: [00:20:53] Yeah. 

Adrianna: [00:20:53] Yeah.

Ian: [00:20:53] Honestly, that’s a job that I would love to have. It’s like get paid to ride the bus, ride the train and just, like, help people out with, like, whatever troubleshooting they need.

Adrianna: [00:21:01] Yeah.

Ian: [00:21:02] Regarding the transit system. Oh, I’d love that.

Adrianna: [00:21:04] Yeah, I think it would. I mean, it’s been popular in other cities and I think it would be really popular here too, because, you know, there’s a lot of people who who are using it for the first time or are here from out of town and they need directions or and it’s just really helpful to have somebody around even for like those smaller things.

Ian: [00:21:25] Yeah.

Adrianna: [00:21:25] Yeah.

Ian: [00:21:27] So next I was asking them about like scheduling things and you know, like, like the working conditions for the operators themselves. So we’re going to hear from Ryan’s, going to tell us to talk about split shifts. Brian’s going to talk about schedule, flexibility. And then Ryan taught me a lot about like recovery time and how that differs from like having a break.

Adrianna: [00:21:53] Okay.

Ryan: [00:21:54] There’s splits for full time operators and that’s another thing. If you have less splits, you’ll have more people coming in to drive full time, I think. And right now in our contract weekdays, Monday through Friday, it’s around it’s 55%, one piece runs, 45% splits that that part time work because there’s a lot of open work mid day, because there’s a lot of splits for drivers to drive. They can’t fill in some of this other open work. I think if we had a serious discussion about more full time runs, that would attract more people as well too. But they keep talking about flexibility. I know people do to some extent want some flexibility, but if you look at, you know, most people want something stable and consistent is what they want. And splits helps give some. Splits doesn’t help always give stability and consistency because the splits vary. Some of the splits are only an hour or half hour or 20 minutes, but some can get rare, but some get up to about 3 hours long. If you had more solid runs, I think it would open the door for more people coming in. I think that is seriously an issue, but I don’t think they’re willing to discuss that, personally. We proposed it, but they didn’t want to talk about it.

Brian: [00:23:11] The way that we are currently oriented is we have full time positions that those schedules are picked on a seniority basis, and then we have our part time schedules primarily geared towards what we call as a part time weekday position. So it’s covering the two rush hours with open time in between. Now, that was all oriented towards our older service model where we had a lot more peak demand. So our need in that area has not been as high based on ridership, but we expect that we’re going to want to be growing that market over the next couple of years. We don’t believe that that schedule is maybe as desirable as it once was. That’s some of the feedback that we’re getting from both current employees and prospective employees is that they’re looking for something that’s maybe a little bit more flexible. I’m not going to go as far as like ride sharing flexible. That doesn’t really fit kind of our version of the way we’d want to operate where somebody could just grab a bus and go. However, we do think that we need to partner with the union and come up with some potential new strategies that allow for that additional flexibility for somebody who either, if they’re a current employee or they want to be an employee, is not necessarily interested in another full time career. They already have a full time job, but they want to work for us and just drive nights after another caretaker is home with the family or something like that. And so that’s something that we’ve really been trying to to work on is to make those schedules something for everybody. We know that there’s there’s not one schedule that is perfect for anyone. I think that’s true in a lot of professions, and we’re going to keep working at that because that really seems to be some of the feedback that we’re hearing coming coming out of the last couple of years, especially.

Ryan: [00:25:09] We fall under FDA regulations. We don’t get breaks, we get recovery time. This is something a lot of the public doesn’t understand. And I’m glad you ask this question. So what that means is when we’re running late, we lose time out of the seat. And your layover varies per route. They’re all different. Different times a day. Some some of the work has some decent layovers on it, but some of it there’s some routes out there, like it has 7 minutes on one end and then 5 minutes on the other end. You end up 10 minutes late. Good luck all day and trying to keep caught up and what that ends up doing, we try to preach to our members, you know, safety first. Get out of the seat, walk around, stretch, go to the bathroom. You need to do that. Don’t get caught up in the schedule. But what that does is that pressure is there because they they they feel they need to get the riders to the checkpoints on time and everything, even though there’s no chance of them getting caught up. They get in this constant loop and it’s called turn and burn. We have a lot of members who will risk it and turn and burn. And they get they get into accidents because they get worn out. And then we try to bring these issues up about turning and burning and all the responsibilities put on the operator. You know, they have the right to get out at the layover and work stretch, give them self time. But that’s that’s an issue as well. We technically don’t have our splits are technically I guess our break but we get layovers or recovery times. We don’t get we don’t get an actual technical break.

Adrianna: [00:26:48] Oh. 

Ian: [00:26:49] Yeah.

Adrianna: [00:26:50] Yeah. I didn’t know that. That’s super frustrating. Like, I don’t know the thing with the split shifts, you have to get up early in the morning, go to work, work for a few hours, and then you’re off work and Oh! It’s your free time. But like, do you have time to go home?

Ian: [00:27:05] No.

Adrianna: [00:27:05] Yeah. Like, so it’s like, oh, you just have to hang around and then wait until your, your your shift starts again. But you’re not getting paid for that time in between.

Ian: [00:27:14] Right?

Adrianna: [00:27:14] And now it’s like, I don’t know, like a 12 hour day or even longer, but you’re only getting paid for like eight of it or something.

Ian: [00:27:21] Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah. I would go, I would go nuts.

Adrianna: [00:27:26] Yeah. Yeah. And I think too it’s, I think a lot of. Industries just need to, like, wake up and realize that, like the pandemic has changed things a lot. Like a lot of people left the workforce. There are a lot of open jobs. So you know who’s going to pick this? Like, why would you pick this really inconvenient schedule that’s going to waste your time over a job that might, like, pay you more and have a better schedule? So.

Ian: [00:27:52] And I mean, speaking of the pandemic, though, it was refreshing to hear that like like Metro Transit and the Union both like kind of recognize that, oh, like the model of like trying to have as many operators as possible during peak rush hour times and then like, you know, having lower service at other times isn’t like really what we’re probably trying to provide anymore. And so like those split shifts aren’t as useful to Metro Transit.

Adrianna: [00:28:22] Yeah.

Ian: [00:28:23] So like it seems like they’re moving more in a direction of like having, you know, more consolidated shifts.

Adrianna: [00:28:30] I think that’s, you know, and hopefully they, they just do it, get on it. Like stop talking about it and do it right. Yeah. Because there’s, there’s a lot of data showing that the transit use is more like a constant throughout the day rather than like those peaks during rush hour. And I think that there’s like potential there to to just make it a system that works for more people.

Ian: [00:28:57] Absolutely.

Adrianna: [00:28:58] Yeah. Because like even before the pandemic, not everybody worked. A 9 to 5 people have places to go pretty much all times of the day. So yeah.

Ian: [00:29:08] Yeah. I mean, even even if you’re somebody who works at 9 to 5, like you’re probably hanging out with friends at some point, you know, after hours, and then you’ve got to get home, you know, on a Friday or Saturday night or something like that, right?

Adrianna: [00:29:22] Yeah.

Ian: [00:29:22] And it’s like, wouldn’t it be great if we had a transit system that also, you know, like…

Adrianna: [00:29:27] Right. 

Ian: [00:29:27] …Solutions that work for one were use case also solve a lot of problems for other use cases as well like.

Adrianna: [00:29:35] Yeah! And I think it’s, you know, it’s important to get away from that like commuter model just because like our lives don’t revolve entirely around work. We have other things that we need to do in other places to go. And I had another thought, but maybe it’s gone.

Ian: [00:29:51] Yeah. I mean, if we, if we want to, like, encourage a better, like, work life balance among, you know, the population at large, maybe we should also like build systems that don’t make the assumption that like, oh, getting to and from work is like the highest ideal.

Adrianna: [00:30:09] Right.

Ian: [00:30:10] Version of like transportation, for example.

Adrianna: [00:30:12] Yeah, and I think too it’s to me like I really value a predictable, reliable system and just having the same like increment of time between when buses are coming like all day long, you know, whether that’s like, I mean, 10 minutes would be great, but even like every 15 minutes and if you can just depend on that like all day, every day, that makes more sense to me than like, well, from 7 to 9 a.m. it’s every 10 minutes, but the rest of the day it’s every 30 or whatever. It’s like it’s just easier to, like, work your schedule if you just know, like the bus is always coming at the same frequency.

Ian: [00:30:49] Like this morning you suddenly realize like, Oh, it’s Sunday, right? The bus comes less frequently.

Adrianna: [00:30:54] Yeah.

Ian: [00:30:54] Can we push back by 15 minutes?

Adrianna: [00:30:56] Yeah, because, well, the bus that I took here only runs every hour on Sundays. And it’s just like. So my options were either, like, be 15 minutes late or 45 minutes early.

Ian: [00:31:06] Right, right, right. I think I’ll take the 15 minutes. Yeah, that seems like a good choice. Shifting now towards some things that are like barriers to entry for folks who want to become bus operators. You know, I was asking about like, you know, what kinds of requirements are there and are there like if you’re working towards getting like, you know, a commercial driver’s license, like are there are are there supports for you along the way or like are you totally on your own? So we’re going to hear a variety of different topics there.

Ryan: [00:31:43] Some of our greatest employees currently, they got jobs here without a high school degree. Now, they eventually went and got a GED or something like that, but they got hired in here without that stuff. And they they were capable people. They just, you know, slipped through the cracks of the school system. But they were great bus drivers. They became great dispatchers, some of the best dispatchers. And even outside of work, you know, in the work they some of these people have done in the communities or some of the work they’ve done in the union, they’ve been some of the best employees and union members. They’ve gotten more stringent on that, and they don’t you have to have at least the GED equivalent. And, you know, they could argue that. You know, I’m not trying to belittle bus driving. It’s not an easy job.

Brian: [00:32:36] So one that we’ve heard about more recently is whether or not we need to continue to require a high school diploma or equivalency. And so while for many folks, especially if you went through college or whatever, you think, well, that might not be a barrier, but it can be. And in some cases, some people who are new to the United States even have a harder time demonstrating completion of a high school equivalency, maybe in a foreign country. And so one of the things that we’re working on, I wish we had a big announcement to make, but I’ll hear more about it later this week is that we’re working on a program to be able to get people into a pipeline that allows them to test out after working with some potential third parties on getting that GED equivalency. So that the one thing we like about that is there certainly are people who did not complete a high school education for for whatever reason, that could be great bus operators, but all the other positions currently at the council are going to require that. And so we think that there’s a benefit for mobility, that we also help people complete that as well. So that’s a process that we’re working on. We recognize that we’re a transit agency and not education specialists. And so that’s why we’re really we have a workforce development group who’s working hard with some of their connections in the community to find the right community partners and figure out how can we maybe get people started while they’re continuing to finish that program and move forward? I’ll say that once people if people have met that threshold and they’ve satisfied a couple of the other basic requirements, which is fairly standard for many commercial vehicle operators, which is some duration of driving experience and then a good or satisfactory driving record. Sort of the next hurdle that needs to be cleared is getting that commercial learner’s permit. We’ve been offering through our Workforce Development Department training and study sessions for people who need to obtain their commercial learner’s permit so that you are prepped and ready to go to one of the Department of Motor Vehicle sites and take the test. Now, the next iteration of this that we’ve been working on and we hope to be able to launch as soon as September, is an actual onsite week to two week program that pays people and considers them sort of a conditional employee before they start their bus operator training that says We’ll train you as an employee to get your commercial learner’s permit. And so that that would involve the regular onboarding for part of a day and then half day sessions of classroom going through the commercial learner’s manual to to be trained on the areas that we know are important for our bus operators as well as what the state will be testing for. And so the half day in the classroom, take a break for lunch and then spend a few hours in the afternoon applying what you’ve been taught. And so using our equipment to understand how does the book translate to our vehicles. And that’s been kind of the gap that we’ve had currently is that we’ve been focusing on that classroom to provide a lot of information. We’re trying to apply those adult learning philosophies as well, give people different ways of seeing and grasping the information and also recognizing, frankly, that some of our applicants don’t have English as a first language. And so making sure that we’re careful to explain things in ways that might resonate with different audiences, apply that in a practical manner on our bus so that people are able to understand where is the steering system, where are the air brakes, how do they work? And looking at it to reinforce what it is that you saw in the book or in the classroom. After about two and one half days in that type of program, then we would be able to help provide transportation to one of the state testing exam sites to be able to allow people to take their commercial learner’s permit. And if you once you pass, we would spend another period of time working on what we know are some of the challenges with the road test. And so getting that very early exposure into one of our buses with our instructors, frankly, the hardest part of the exam is backing up a bus. You can imagine a lot of people have challenges with parallel parking and like a Kia Sorento. And so then you translate that to a 40 foot bus that we use. That’s the bulk of our fleet and that’s what we use for our training and testing. It can be a challenge to rely only on your exterior mirrors. It is impressive and it’s a skill. It’s an acquired skill that requires a strategy and then training and some repetition. And so that’s the other area that even and I’m getting to kind of another area where we’ve had challenges with people who once they get started as both getting that permit. So we think we have a strategy to overcome that. And then after that would be getting that CDL. So we, we do the testing. Our employees are we have several employees who are certified in that. And so we’ll get, we’ll help get them the practical experience and then be able to test people so they can actually get that license that’s required to move into the rest of training and become a full fledged bus operator.

Ian: [00:38:39] I didn’t really catch how long that clip was, but I left. Just like all, it’s one big block.

Adrianna: [00:38:44] But I mean, it was really interesting. Yeah. Yeah. And I think it shows, I think, like, the potential of, like, being a bus driver can be a really good job. Like it’s a job that like is really skilled. It’s like a skill to be able to drive a 40 foot bus and, and super…

Ian: [00:39:05] And listening to him talk for that long about like, what are the steps that you have to go through? What are the requirements to get your, like, commercial driver’s license? You know, I could feel my eyes glazing over a little bit and I’m like, well, that that illustrates just how like, much work it is.

Adrianna: [00:39:20] Yeah. Yeah. And I think it is I mean, it is cool that Metro Transit has, like, committed to actually training new employees.

Ian: [00:39:27] Yeah

Adrianna: [00:39:28] Yeah. 

Ian: [00:39:28] Yeah. If they implement that the way that he was describing it. Like that sounds like gold standard right there.

Adrianna: [00:39:34] Yeah. And I think that makes it a lot more accessible because there are people who are looking for jobs, you know, like all the time. There are people looking for a good job in this. You know, it is a it’s a union job. It’s like guaranteed that you’re going to have work, you know.

Ian: [00:39:50] Right.

Adrianna: [00:39:51] And. 

Ian: [00:39:52] Good benefits.

Adrianna: [00:39:52] Yeah. And so like there are a lot of good things about it.

Ian: [00:39:56] And but if you’re, if you’re expected to like go through the steps of trying to get your permit and then your license and everything while you’re also holding down whatever job you currently have before getting to join Metro Transit like that would be a huge barrier to entry.

Adrianna: [00:40:10] Yeah.

Ian: [00:40:10] So with like the whole like conditional being a conditional employee of Metro Transit and getting paid while you’re actually going through that training like that’s huge.

Adrianna: [00:40:21] Yeah. And I think that’s really, it’s, it’s a really good thing because honestly, if they weren’t doing that, I don’t see how they would ever be able to hire anyone.

Ian: [00:40:27] Right.

Adrianna: [00:40:28] Yeah, because…

Ian: [00:40:29] I mean, they, they did mention that and I didn’t include this clip, but that that they do get a good number of people who like already have their CDL because they were like school bus drivers before or maybe they started like at First Transit, you know, and they’ve been right driving a city bus, but now they’re like moving to be actually part of like Metro Transit’s employee. Yeah.

Adrianna: [00:40:51] Right. Well, I just think about it because I’m like, okay, so a lot of if I wanted to be a bus driver, for example, I’m like, I have most of the qualifications that they require. Like went to high school. I have a, I have a driver’s license and a good driving record. But I don’t have a CDL license. I don’t I’ve never driven like a bus. So, like, I would need that kind of training.

Ian: [00:41:12] Yeah, yeah, yeah. And ever since I was a kid, like, I have been just absolutely flabbergasted impressed by, like, the things that bus drivers can do with these giant vehicles, like getting them around sharp turns and, like, maneuvering.

Adrianna: [00:41:28] Yeah. And on top of that, it’s like it’s customer service, too.

Ian: [00:41:31] Oh, yeah, yeah. Oh, yeah. Ryan’s going to have a pretty funny, pretty funny thing to say along those lines later. Yeah. So Ryan also had some stuff to say about like, like what jobs are available to you right away when you, when you first get hired and, and how that can like kind of affect how easy it is as jumping in.

Ryan: [00:41:56] That is one thing I can say. We do ask for more training time all the time to Metro Transit for new hires and they had historically what used to happen was when you got hired, you went straight to part time. And then with COVID, we had so many part timers and we didn’t have enough full timers as COVID kept going through. So we were some people were hiring, being hired straight to full time and going through the same training amount of time for training and full time is, is a different animal than part time. Part time kind of get’s you slowly creep into the water and adjust to the temperature instead of just diving right in. So that might be one aspect of it.

Brian: [00:42:41] We’re one of very few transit agencies that has a bus operator apprenticeship program. We certainly touted that when the program launched in 2018, but it’s kind of second in the country program to help people through their first. Now it’s almost two year into their position with workshops, mentoring, additional training, classroom work, and it really is building that community for each of those employees that from day one you have a best friend and before you know it, you have 50 best friends that are all there to look out for you. Because doing the job when you’re out there, you’re by yourself, right? You have a radio, you have your customers, but you don’t have a coworker to lean over and tap on the shoulder and say, “How do you do this?”

Ryan: [00:43:32] You’re driving a bus. You’re you end up being we always use the term the bartender because, you know, the bartender is somebody everybody wants to talk to and tell their stories to. The driver ends up being like that. The driver also ends up being a quasi cashier because they’re running the fare box driver ends up being the bouncer trying to maintain some… Bouncer’s maybe not the best word to use. You’re trying to de-escalate and keep things maintained on the bus in a very helpful, safe manner. You’re trying to keep anywhere from 2 to 60 passengers safe, maneuvering through traffic, rush hour traffic, trying to pay attention, 360 degrees around the bus where there are massive blind spots all over that thing, cars sneaking into those blind spots and you’re trying to catch that. There’s all sorts of things going on there. It’s a skill. Even though it’s only been recently more recognized as a skill job. It is a very skilled job and and having to multitask like that and be safe operating and the safety of the passengers and just maneuvering through traffic, it’s a very stressful, it’s a it’s an extremely stressful job. And because you’re by yourself, it can be extremely isolating at points in time, too, which can lead to a lot of depression for some of our members. And one thing the union has worked on is we have the apprenticeship program where we pair people up with mentors to try to help them get through those early periods, through the mentorship. But that’s only one little thing that can help out with all the stresses that are currently out there and all the safety issues that are currently out there. 

[00:45:20] [music]

Ian: [00:45:20] Yeah, I wasn’t aware that this apprenticeship program was like Second in the nation. That feels very Minnesotan. “We’re the second in the nation.”

Adrianna: [00:45:28] Yeah, yeah. I think, you know, just listening to actually both of them talk, it’s like I as a transit rider, have so much respect for bus drivers. And I know that like riders respect bus drivers so much, you know, despite like sometimes there are like moments of disrespect, of course, but.

Adrianna: [00:45:48] Right.

Ian: [00:45:49] Like… Yeah,

Ian: [00:45:50] And the unfortunate thing is that like as an operator, I mean, just as a human being, right? Like those negative interactions are the ones that stick in your brain, even if the vast majority of like your interactions with the riders is like positive.

Adrianna: [00:46:03] Yeah, yeah. And yeah, I’m like, I don’t know. I think it’s like just trying to do what you can as a rider, you know, like just thinking your driver and trying to be polite and everything. Yeah, I think that’s I don’t think that there’s, like, more responsibility than that that you have as a rider. But I think, like Metro Transit has a responsibility to, you know, do things like the mentorship program and, you know, and also improving working conditions like yeah, like kind of going backwards now, but like what Ryan was talking about with the break times and stuff, I’m like, that’s awful. Like, and it’s really unfair to be putting operators in the position of feeling like, I have to choose between a break, which is what I need for my body and my mind and everything, or, you know, being able to pick people up on time who are waiting for their bus and like that shouldn’t be on an individual to worry about that.

Ian: [00:46:59] Right. Yeah, yeah, yeah. That’s yeah. It’s a lot of pressure. All right. Now we’re going to get into the the like the meat of the the money question.

Adrianna: [00:47:09] I’m very interested in this.

Ian: [00:47:11] Wages starting, wages, bonuses, that kind of thing. We’re going to hear from Brian first here.

Brian: [00:47:17] There’s a lot of enticing signs out there that are offering higher starting wages than ours. And so you may know this, we talked about it in our with our transportation committee. We’ve been working and are continuing to work. With the ATU, the union that represents bus operators on trying to figure out what sort of strategy to accelerate and increase that starting wage. So we do need to have a bargaining process. We need to have agreement from both sides on the structure, what that looks like. We aren’t able to unilaterally impose, even if it’s more money. Most people would think, Oh, well, if you’re just giving away money, you can just do it. Well, no, it does require an iterative process. The the labor agreement that we have right now, this this one here, the kind of rulebook we all live by, doesn’t expire until next summer. But we went forward and said we want to work together, try to figure out what’s going to be the right recipe to increase that starting wage, attract more interest. Is there room for referral and hiring bonuses, those types of things. And so while I wish I had something to share with you or announce imminently, we’re still working together with the ATU on what that looks like. And then of course, they’ll have to ensure that the membership likes the new structure because we’re opening it outside of traditional bargaining.

Ryan: [00:48:43] If you look at inflation, our members have been losing drastically losing money under this last contract and it’s it’s around the starting wage currently is $21.80. Now they’re going to if you do an interview with them, they’re going to tell you they offered us wage increases, but they’re not going to tell you is there were concessions to it if they would have given us something without concessions. But they put the offer on the table, basically saying, “It’s our terms.” They didn’t want to negotiate it. That’s not really negotiating. And it was just like either accept this or not and they wanted us to give up concessions. And it’s just like we’re not going to give up bargaining rights. We shouldn’t even have to give up bargaining rights. You guys have this money. One of the things Metro Transit does, it does take seven years to get to top scale. We did have the company did come forward with a reopener or to try to shrink that. And we were definitely open to that. But they had concessions attached to it we could not agree to. So that’s they’ll openly talk about what we did offer to to decrease the pay progression. And we were open to talk about it. But they they wanted concessions for it and we weren’t willing to give up. They wanted us to give up our negotiation rights around new hire bonuses and referral bonuses. So we refuse to give up that negotiation right.

Ian: [00:50:11] Now we’re getting into the fun labor stuff.

Adrianna: [00:50:13] Yeah.

Ian: [00:50:16] I was very surprised to find out that like that that Metro Transit can’t just, like, increase wages outside of contract negotiations, you know, like and I feel like that’s probably something that you could build into a contract if you wanted to, you know, like be like, write in a clause that like, oh, if Metro Transit has extra resources and they want to increase the wages, you know, above this, like, like the agreed upon rate is the minimum threshold kind of thing.

Adrianna: [00:50:47] Yeah. Yeah. And I, I think it’s hard to know what’s really, I find it’s like very hard to know, like what Metro Transit is trying to do with this.

Ian: [00:50:58] Right.

Adrianna: [00:50:58] Because like I’ve also talked to people at Metro Transit who are like, yep, we’re still in negotiations. We’re going to keep we’re going to keep working. You’re going to figure something out. But like the wage increase that they offered was very low. And it really needs to be a cost of living adjustment…

Ian: [00:51:15] Right.

Adrianna: [00:51:15] …Plus an increase or it’s not really a raise at all. Right. And the other thing that I think like they could be doing, even though it’s you know, it’s not they won’t start the new contract until next summer. Right?

Ian: [00:51:29] Right.

Adrianna: [00:51:30] But they’re making a budget for 2023. So why why not, like, start budgeting for an increase in wages?

Ian: [00:51:38] Mm hmm.

Adrianna: [00:51:39] Something else, too, is, like, I don’t think that transit employees got much in the way of, like, hazard pay or bonuses for working during the pandemic. And, like…

Ian: [00:51:51] Ryan’s going to talk about that in the next…

Adrianna: [00:51:52] Oh, okay. Yeah, okay, yeah. I’m like, yeah. And it’s like, there were people who died because of, like, they were bus drivers and they got sick with COVID, like, and it’s just it’s really serious. And I think that it’s like it’s not it hasn’t been addressed. And yeah, well, we can hear what Ryan says about it.

Ian: [00:52:11] But I mean, the fact that the thing that really punched me in the gut is like that Metro Transit is taking this like, you know, budget surplus that they have, that, you know, that they could be increasing wages and offered that contingent upon like, the union giving up negotiating rights for other things, which is like, no.

Adrianna: [00:52:33] No union is going to take that.

Ian: [00:52:35] Absolutely not.

Adrianna: [00:52:35] Yeah,

Ian: [00:52:36] Yeah,

Adrianna: [00:52:36] Yeah. And I’m like, it’s really good that they have the union because like, they obviously need to be advocating for themselves, like, yeah, right.

Ian: [00:52:44] Yeah. I saved kind of some of the most powerful stuff for last but here’s yeah. Ryan’s Ryan’s got some some things to say about like hazard pay as you as you mentioned but also like what he considers to be like the best recruitment tool that Metro Transit has on their hands.

Adrianna: [00:53:01] Awesome.

Ryan: [00:53:02] But one of the biggest things that isn’t there I feel anymore is they kind of lost sight of what their biggest recruitment tool was, and that was the workforce itself. And I don’t think the workforce after COVID is very demoralized. You know, everybody at Met Council, they gave everybody for $500 for working through COVID. And then there was a $500 for accepting our contracts as some type of hazard pay. But and to be honest, for what our members went through, I really don’t know if Metro Transit recognized that even though we tried to bring it up in negotiations, we had we had some members who had to split off their household because they had family members who are auto immune and they didn’t coming home, being in a bus with recirculated air, we did have two members who passed away from COVID. We had members who would get COVID and would run out of sick time because of how long they were gone. And we had one family who to family there was a multigenerational household. Two family members came home who work on the platforms. They had COVID. It spread through their family and killed their grandfather. You know that those types of these things weighed heavy on our membership and they didn’t feel like that fully got recognized and they didn’t get hazard pay for what company may consider what they offered hazard pay. But for those who were consistently showing up, you know, they felt they got lumped in with everybody else and they were putting their families at risk every day and they didn’t feel like that was recognized. So that’s led to a lot of demoralization. You don’t have them recruiting out of their families anymore or their friends. They’ve lost a lot of that due to the way people feel coming out of that last contract. 

[00:55:04] [music]

Ian: [00:55:05] Yeah.

Adrianna: [00:55:07] Yeah. That’s really sad. Um, yeah, there’s just. There’s a lot to grieve, and I think it’s, it’s, you know, it’s it’s bigger than Metro Transit, obviously.

Ian: [00:55:19] Absolutely. Yeah.

Adrianna: [00:55:19] But, you know, I think institutions do have a responsibility to recognize, like, what their employees have been through. And, you know, $500 is not very much. And I don’t think that pay is the only thing. But like improving pay, improving working conditions, actually showing respect for like the really important job that operators in all of the frontline transit staff do.

Ian: [00:55:49] Yeah, yeah, yeah. And I mean, like what he said about about, you know, operators when they are having a good time in their job, you know, they’re going to suggest it as a career opportunity to their family and friends. And so like, I mean, it doesn’t it doesn’t illuminate any, like, new strategies for us in terms of just like, yes, of course, like all of these things that we’ve been talking about are designed to like make this job better for the folks who are doing it. But it feels it feels so much more powerful when you like, put it that way, that like when you have operators whose morale is high, then like that’s, you know, that’s going to beget more operators.

Adrianna: [00:56:40] Yeah. I mean, it’s, it’s really true. It’s like the connections and the relationships that you have with people are a huge part of, you know, like any organization. It’s like people, you know, would be bringing others in if it’s like, if it’s good working conditions and yeah, I don’t know, it’s, it’s kind of tough because I’m like, on the one hand, I’m a transit rider and I really like so many people, want reliable transit service, which starts with having enough bus operators and train operators. But I also am like, well, I don’t want people to have to work in a bad job either. So like, right, what do we need to fix here? Like we need the job to be better. Yeah.

Ian: [00:57:23] Yeah. Brian did give me a a a little bit more insight on, like, why the driver shortage feels so acute right now.

Brian: [00:57:32] When our overall number is less, we’re just a lot less resilient. And so in 2019, we had almost 1500 total operators. 100 short of 1500 is a lot different than 80 short of 1000 operators. And so that’s why it’s we’re feeling it more now, I would say, and it’s more apparent to our our customers and what we need to do on the service side of things than it was a few years ago.

Adrianna: [00:58:04] Yeah. And I think I try not to like get into doomsday like imagining or whatever, but I’m like, you know, Metro Transit has steadily been decreasing service since 2019, right? Like it’s currently operating 75% of 2019 levels. And it kind of does start to become a spiral of like the more operators leave, the harder it gets for the ones who stay. And they’re just there needs to be like significant changes, right?

Ian: [00:58:34] Yeah. And, and the more operators leave, like the more frequency cuts they make.

Adrianna: [00:58:41] The fewer there are riders. Like fewer people ride.

Ian: [00:58:43] Exactly. Yeah, yeah.

Adrianna: [00:58:44] Yeah. And then there’s going to be the whole legislative angle where people are going to come in and be like, no one’s riding transit anymore. Why should we fund it?

Ian: [00:58:51] Exactly, exactly. Yeah. Gosh, we can FDR come and save us, just, like, inject some money into this.

Adrianna: [00:59:00] Yeah. I mean, I wonder, like, there is all of the, the federal money and stuff that like I think Metro Transit has received a lot of and I, I think that would be an interesting question of like how much, how much do they have left and how are they going to spend it?

Ian: [00:59:16] Yeah, right, right. But like, yeah, it’s, it’s so tempting for like people who are at the legislative level to like kind of take an austerity approach and it’s like, oh, you need somebody with vision who’s just going to like recognize that like, no, we got, we got to like put resources into this thing, even if it doesn’t intuitively look like that’s going to be the right call right now, but that’s going to make the service better and it’s going to bring ridership back and, you know, turn it around into a virtuous cycle and and like and things like that happen sometimes, you know, where it seems like we’re not going to be able to solve an issue. And then all of a sudden, like, you know, the, the IRA gets passed and it’s like, wow. That, like all of a sudden the. Like that injects a whole lot of resources into fighting climate change. You know, and it was like that kind of turned around the whole conversation overnight.

Adrianna: [01:00:17] Well, and I think to I’m like, I wish I could come up with, like, think of, like, the right metaphor, but sometimes things feel like they happened all of a sudden. But it’s really like there’s been people working and working and working behind the scenes. You know, the Metropolitan Council is building their budget for 2023 and if you have thoughts about what they should, how they should fund Metro Transit.

Ian: [01:00:37] You being the listener, the person listening…

Adrianna: [01:00:39] People listening to this right now. Yeah. Find out who your your council member is. It’s different than city council. So like Metropolitan Council is regional. But find out who your council member is, give them a call or write them an email or go and comment when they open up the comment period in October and let them know how you think they should be spending our our money. It’s like it’s our taxes and our transit fares, so.

Ian: [01:01:05] Right.

Adrianna: [01:01:05] Yeah.

Ian: [01:01:06] Yeah, absolutely. I think that’s a good a good way to end to you.

Adrianna: [01:01:10] Yeah.

Ian: [01:01:11] A lot more hopeful than the spiral that I was getting myself into. Adri do you want people to find you on the Internet?

Adrianna: [01:01:19] I would say yes. But I think my my Twitter is locked right now. So you know what? You can you can request to follow me. So.

Ian: [01:01:25] Sure.

Adrianna: [01:01:26] On Twitter. I’m just [@AdriannaJereb]. Yes.

Ian: [01:01:28] Thanks for joining us for this episode of the Streets.mn podcast. Before I let you go, there is an upcoming event that I wanted to tell you about in celebration of World Car Free Day on September 22nd, several local organizations are teaming up to put on the Car Free MSSP initiative this month. Your goal is to go completely car free on Thursday, September 22nd, and to help you get some practice. There are resources available to help you plan your trips, fun events to attend as well as prizes for commuting car free anytime September 1st through the 22nd. Find out more at their website [https://carfreemsp.com]. This show is released under a Creative Commons attribution, non commercial, non derivative license, so feel free to republish the episode as long as you are not altering it and you are not profiting from it. The music in this episode is by Eric Brandt and the Urban Hillbilly Quartet. This episode was hosted and edited by me Ian R. Buck, with transcript by the indomitable Mike Allen. Christy Marsden is our awesome guest-booker and technical assistance is provided by the super professional Brian Mitchell. If you’re able to help make sure this team gets paid for the hard work that they do, please consider donating at [https://streets.mn/donate]. We really appreciate it. If you have feedback or ideas for future episodes, drop us a line at [podcast@streets.mn]. Until next time, take care.

About Ian R Buck

Co-chair of the Saint Paul Bicycle Coalition, podcaster, and teacher. Ian gets around via bike and public transportation. "You don't need a parachute to skydive; you just need a parachute to skydive twice!"

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