Facing staff shortages due to COVID, Port Authority adapts and asks for patience | News | Pittsburgh | Pittsburgh City Paper

Facing staff shortages due to COVID, Port Authority adapts and asks for patience

click to enlarge Facing staff shortages due to COVID, Port Authority adapts and asks for patience
CP photo: Jared Wickerham
The bus stop at Smithfield Street and Sixth Avenue in Downtown Pittsburgh
As COVID-19 cases multiply and cause serious staffing shortages throughout the Pittsburgh region, Port Authority of Allegheny County tweeted on Jan. 3 that they are “being forced to cancel between 100-200 bus and rail trips,” of their roughly 6,200 trips a day. In addition to those cancellations, Port Authority is also predicting “delays and longer-than-normal wait times throughout the transit network.”

Port Authority reported in a recent release that 84 employees tested positive in December and 28 employees tested positive since Jan. 1. A seventh Port Authority employee, a five-year bus operator, died on Jan. 1.

The agency expects that the shortage of operators will continue until the rate of cases in Allegheny County subsides.

The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review reported that Port Authority spokesperson Adam Brandolph said that 74% of Port Authority’s employees are vaccinated and that the agency is offering financial incentives to existing employees to get the vaccine and booster as well as monetary rewards to vaccinated employees when three-fourths of the entire agency is vaccinated and again at 85%. New employees are required to be fully vaccinated within 30 days of starting work, Brandolph said.

Unfortunately, this is not the first time that the coronavirus pandemic has necessitated Port Authority scaling back service. Port Authority has been alerting the public of their staff shortage for several months and also tweeted about canceling rides due to staffing shortages in late August 2021.

However, while ridership demand during the pandemic has lessened, it has not gone away. Ridership across Port Authority vehicles increased 23% from August 2021 to September 2021.

Port Authority asks riders to be understanding, patient, and to allow for additional travel time. Port Authority also reminded riders to check with its Transit Alert Twitter account (@PghTransitAlert) for ongoing updates and to see if any routes or trips have been pulled from service. Riders can also contact customer service at 412-442-2000 or at portauthority.org.

Disability Pride
22 images

Disability Pride

By Mars Johnson