CyRide sees service reduction due to staffing shortage

CyRide announced last week that it would be seeing a service reduction due to staffing shortages.

Riders can still expect to see the buses making the same stops, only less frequently on certain routes, said Christine Crippen, assistant director of operations at CyRide.

“We tried to pick something when we were reducing service that wouldn’t affect service too much,” Crippen said. “Over the weekend, it just reduces the frequency that the buses come by, and we looked at routes that aren’t typically as busy. So the weekend service that we cut is mostly on the Red and Blue Route.”

The service reduction is due to a significant shortage of bus drivers at CyRide. CyRide is not alone in its shortage of drivers as businesses across the country have been struggling to find adequate numbers of employees.

To help alleviate their shortage of drivers, CyRide has a variety of incentives to encourage people to apply for bus driver positions. CyRide offers a $1,000 hiring bonus to new employees, as well as a $500 referral bonus for current drivers who refer new drivers to the business.

On top of that, CyRide offers shift differentials for drivers who are called into work outside of their regular schedule. According to Crippen, if a driver is called into work they can earn an extra $2 an hour, bringing a starting wage up to $19.51 an hour.

“The other one that I don’t really think people totally understand until you work here is that if you’re an Iowa State student, you get priority scheduling, which means you get to register for your class before seniors,” Crippen said.

While CyRide does offer plenty of benefits and incentives for new employees, obtaining a commercial driver’s license (CDL) and the proper training to drive a bus takes a considerable amount of time.

“Obviously, we have some stringent requirements such as drug and alcohol testing. You also have to have a fairly good driving record before we can hire you, and then [drivers must complete] our training program,” Crippen said. “ If you’re a student, and you know you can only work like 20 hours a week, it will take you a little bit to get through it.”

It generally can take up to three months before a new driver is ready to go and drive on their own, depending on their schedule and availability, Crippen said.

“The biggest hurdle is getting into the Department of Transportation (DOT) station to get your CDL permit. You have to have that before you start,” Crippen said. “We train you for your CDL so that’s kind of a little process in itself. And then you also have training with our trainers and then you go out with the driver instructors on route where you learn all the routes.”

While the certification and training required for bus drivers are extensive, new drivers with more flexibility can work through the process faster. CyRide is looking for drivers anywhere along the spectrum from part-time to full-time.

“I think a lot of people are hesitant about coming to work for us because driving a bus seems scary, and it’s really not scary at all,” Crippen said. “Once you understand what you’re doing, it’s easy, and for people who maybe don’t have as much driving experience, we typically tend to make you a better, safer driver.”