Triangle bus driver shortage leads to job fair, reduced service

DURHAM, N.C. (WTVD) -- Six transit agencies partnered for a job fair at the GoTriangle offices in Durham on Tuesday.

Representatives from Chapel Hill Transit, GoCary, GoDurham , GoRaleigh, GoTriangle and GoWake ACCESS were prepared to offer jobs on the spot.

Durham resident and father of three Joe Turner applied for a job. He currently works at Five Guys.

"I like the work that I do," Turner said. "I like the people that I work with, but I need something...I need some insurance. I need benefits. I have a wife and kids at home, and they don't really have that, so I'm just looking for something a little bit more stable."

GoTriangle, GoDurham and Chapel Hill Transit all have about 25-30 vacancies and GoCary needs about one-fourth of its drivers, according to representatives from the agencies.

Those representatives said the driver shortage could be due to many things, such as fear of exposure to COVID-19 during the pandemic, DMV closures during the pandemic that made it harder to get a CDL license, competition from delivery service companies and/or unemployment benefits.

GoCary said it is offering a signing bonus, payable in increments after working for the agency for a certain amount of time. They're also looking to increase hourly wages from $15.50 an hour to $20 an hour.

The driver shortage is impacting bus routes. GoTriangle reduced service on eight routes. Chapel Hill Transit modified schedules on some of its most popular routes, and GoDurham and GoCary had service reductions this month.

"It's starting to become a new fiscal year now, and usually we start new service in the new fiscal year so that would be July or August," said Burgetta Eplin Wheeler, a spokeswoman from GoTriangle. "So in addition to having not enough drivers to do what we're already doing, we're not going to have enough to expand service."

Representatives from the transit agencies offered these numbers on ridership now compared to before the pandemic.

  • GoTriangle: 55-60 percent & 90-95 percent on weekend
  • GoDurham: 70 percent
  • Chapel Hill Transit: 30 percent
  • GoCary: 85 percent

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