Out of the Loop: Mid-Ohio Valley Transit Authority may suspend evening bus routes

Vote expected at meeting today

A Mid-Ohio Valley Transit Authority bus is parked in front of the transit center on Juliana Street Monday afternoon. The Transit Authority board meets at 5 p.m. today and is expected to vote on temporarily suspending the evening loops due to a shortage of drivers. (Photo by Evan Bevins)

PARKERSBURG — Due to a shortage of bus drivers, the Mid-Ohio Valley Transit Authority’s Board of Directors plans to vote today on temporarily suspending its evening loop routes.

“We’re down five drivers right now,” MOVTA General Manager Michael Kesterson said. “We just can’t seem to get anybody to work.”

The board is scheduled to meet at 5 p.m. today in the conference room at the authority’s offices at 520 Juliana St. The meeting is open to the public, with questions or concerns directed to movta@easyriderbus.com.

The Transit Authority operates three commuter loops starting at 7 p.m. Monday through Saturday. Ridership is down somewhat as some businesses are closing earlier, Kesterson said. The Vienna loop has the highest number, averaging 9.96 passengers per hour, while the north Parkersburg loop has 5.31 and the south Parkersburg loop 4.89.

The authority employs 19 full-time drivers, many of whom are working overtime, and six part-time drivers who are putting in close to 40 hours a week, Kesterson said. Canceling the evening routes will “save us about 120 hours a week that we can get some of the drivers a break,” he said.

Kesterson said the authority has tried to fill the vacant positions.

“We’ve interviewed; people come in, and then they don’t show back up,” he said.

If the loops are suspended, Kesterson said, he wants to revisit the situation by January.

“Hopefully, it’s just going to be a temporary thing,” he said.

Prospective drivers must have a commercial driver’s license and a good driving record and be able to pass a background check, Kesterson said. A passenger endorsement is required to operate the buses, but Kesterson said the authority can assist with that training.

The proposed change comes after a Sept. 9 special meeting, conducted by phone, in which the board voted unanimously to reduce the Rayon route from two buses an hour to one. According to meeting minutes, Kesterson said it was due to low ridership numbers and a desire to manage public funds appropriately.

Evan Bevins can be reached at ebevins@newsandsentinel.com.


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