WICHITA FALLS (KFDX/KJTL) — The City of Wichita Falls is set to cut its Falls Ride Saturday bus routes due to a shortage of drivers.
“When it’s real busy, it’s real hard to keep up with that time,” Anthony Turnbow Falls Ride driver said.
Busy is an understatement, with some full-time drivers continuously working 60 to 65 hour work- weeks.
“We had to call timeout on this and we were just getting too worried about the safety impact,” John Burrus City of Wichita Falls Director of Transportation said.
The city is down 10 total drivers, four full-time, six part-time.
Even with the three currently in the hiring process, they just don’t have the man-power.
“Right now we’re just so short staffed it’s just a push push push to get this done,” Turnbow said.
On the outside looking in, it may just look like one day they are cutting, but some in the community rely on public transportation to make a living.
“Most people don’t use our public transportation for recreational activities,” Burrus said.
City councilor DeAndra Chenault already found this out first hand. speaking with a resident in her district who is worried this could cost him his job.
“Everyone might not have someone who can get them to work and I would hate for anyone to lose their job right now,” Chenault said.
Burrus said it’s just not possible anymore without new drivers.
They point at pay, coupled with the pandemic as reasons for the shortage.
But part-time driver Michael McGowan said passengers have cooperated.
“I have to wear one for basically 8 hours so people can wear theirs for less than an hour while they’re driving,” McGowan said.
A statement echoed by other drivers like Anthony Turnbow who adds the city is doing its best to keep everyone safe.
“We can see 100-plus passengers per shift, per bus and we’re taking these people’s lives in our hands,” Turnbow said.
As they’ve pushed on during the pandemic, Burrus hopes they can endure this shortage for a month or so.
“We’ll get this back on track, I’m confident in that, but it may not be until February until we can have enough drivers to resume Saturday service,” Burrus said.
Hoping to continue to keep everyone safe and get them where they need to be.
If you’re interested in becoming a Falls Ride driver, check out the information below:
Employment opportunities: https://cwftx.simplehire.com/
Public Transportation Office Number: 940-761-7433
Jenny Stevens — Public Transportation Administrator: 940-761-7642