UMass Transit Services changes routes due to driver shortage

Posted: 08/19/2021 10:27:36 AM

NORTHAMPTON – The buses that transport students between the five colleges will operate on modified schedules for the next semester due to a shortage of qualified drivers, officials say.

PVTA 39 between Hampshire and Smith College will be canceled for the fall semester, Glenn Barrington, director of transport at UMass Transit Services, announced on Wednesday. In addition to canceling Route 39, other routes are reduced.

PVTA routes 30, between Old Belchertown Road and Amherst, and 31, between Sunderland and South Amherst, will now run every 20 minutes. PVTA routes 34, the UMass Campus Shuttle Northbound, and 35, the UMass Campus Shuttle Southbound, will run every 22 minutes during the day on weekdays.

In order to accommodate the reduced schedule, UMass Transit Services encourages students who live on campus to walk or cycle to their destination. He also recommends that passengers “take a bus much earlier than expected to avoid overcrowding and get to their destination on time.”

UMass Transit Services also plans to run “Tripper” buses on weekday mornings and afternoons to help reduce anticipated overcrowding.

Tripper buses are non-scheduled buses that supplement service on routes 30 and 31 in the Amherst area, “picking up anyone left behind due to overcrowding,” transit services said in a statement. .

UMass Transit Services is looking to hire more qualified bus drivers. It is also “hiring students from all five colleges in the five-college consortium for the first time in its history.” Work starts at $ 17 / hour after training, which pays minimum wage.

The PVTA also plans to start a route between Amherst and Worcester, as soon as it can hire enough drivers. This bus will take Route 9 from Haigis Mall to UMass through the towns of Amherst, Belchertown, Ware, West Brookfield, Brookfield, East Brookfield, Spencer, Leicester and Union Station in Worcester. PVTA intends to charge a fare of $ 9 for all passengers.

Melvin Z. Madore