News from Timmins: City bus service curtailed as exhausted drivers need time off

Starting Monday, transit service in the City of Timmins is reduced for the summer as bus drivers exhausted during the pandemic are given furlough.

In a news release Wednesday, the city said it was still experiencing a driver shortage, something that began during COVID-19.

“In an effort to reduce driver fatigue and stress, City Council has approved a temporary reduction in frequency beginning Monday,” the statement said.

“The revised schedule will be in place during the summer months of June through August and will reduce frequency times for some service routes from every 30 minutes to every 45 minutes.”

Ken Krcel, the director of public works, said many drivers had their summer holidays canceled last year because there were not enough drivers.

“Our drivers need time to rest and recharge,” Krcel said in the statement.

“The immediate benefit is a reduction in wasted time and staff turnover. This small change will prevent a greater loss of service that could occur if drivers end up burning out and calling in sick.”

Reducing the frequency of service will reduce the total number of driving hours each day, allowing time off without having to completely cancel routes.

The timing is also ideal since past data shows a drop in ridership during the summer months.

“We have to give the drivers the requested time off according to their collective agreement,” Krcel said.

“We do this with the least possible impact on transit riders while providing adequate transit in the summer.”

The revised schedule will be posted online by Thursday morning. For more information on the Timmins Transit schedule and updated routes, including those affected by the Connecting Link construction, click here.

Melvin Z. Madore