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Valley Transit plans to expand ride-share amid bus driver shortage

Posted at 5:23 PM, Jun 10, 2024

APPLETON (NBC 26) — Valley Transit is expanding its ride-share system of vans amid an ongoing shortage of bus drivers.

  • The VT Connector will be expanded to make up the routes that aren't being serviced by buses
  • The proposed modifications include transitioning from some fixed-route buses to VT Connector vans after 6 p.m. on weekdays and after 1 p.m. on Saturdays

(The following is a transcription of the full broadcast story, with additional details for the web.)

For Leonard Washington, a seat on the bus is often a ride to work.

"I'm a very avid bus rider," says Washington. "I used to go to many different places. I do freelance art, so sometimes I have to catch the bus."

But, Washington and other riders may soon be learning a new schedule and catching a different ride if changes are made, says Valley Transit General Manager Ron McDonald.

"This is something other systems have done years ago. We're kind of the last ones to follow suit," says McDonald.

He says it's a result of the difficulty to hire new drivers. Right now, he says they only have 17 out of 36 openings filled.

To make up for fewer buses on roads, Valley Transit is expanding their van ride-share service.

"This is something that's been in place. Something we've been doing for years. We're just modifying the last few hours of the night," says Washington.

The vans are wheelchair accessible and passengers must schedule rides at least two hours in advance.

Like the bus, a one-way trip costs $2. McDonald says more vans will run mainly in the evenings and Saturday afternoons.

Leonard Washington says he'd still like to see more buses running more often.

"I think the bus time should be extended, personally," says Washington. "And then they should have Sundays, too, 'cause, it's like, there's still people who have to get to work even on Sunday."

Valley Transit tells me pending final approval the new schedule will take effect from mid-July. Riders should check for updates on their website. You can find that information here.