T ‘Looking at Everything’ to Address Driver Shortage

Winter Schedule Bus Trips To Be Cut By 3% Says MBTA

The Transportation Committee’s House chair on Monday floated the idea of turning to retirees to help address a bus driver shortage at the MBTA, and Transportation Secretary Jamey Tesler said the state is “looking at everything” in seeking solutions.

Last week, the T announced its winter schedule will cut bus trips by 3 percent to reflect the size of the available workforce, as the agency contends with a national shortage of bus and train operators.

Tesler and other Department of Transportation officials appeared before the committee to testify in support of a road safety package filed by Gov. Charlie Baker. After their remarks, House Chairman William Straus asked Tesler about the MBTA’s “driver issue” and if the administration plans “to file legislation that might free up the use of recent retirees from the T who maybe still have [commercial driver’s] licenses as an option for additional workforce that, if they have an interest, might be available.”

Tesler said staffing difficulties also extend to regional transit authorities.

“The challenges, as you know, Chairman, of hiring, particularly hiring for those who drive our vehicles in a range of places — the RTAs and at the T and across the commonwealth with school buses — is real, so we’re looking at everything,” he said. “I can’t say today that that is an option that we would pursue, but it is a really good question and I appreciate that a number of people have raised that with us in the last few days and suggested that may help, so we are taking a look at that.”

Tesler said that when considering retirees’ potential returns, “we do want to think about whether it’s to come back as bus drivers or other critical safety functions too that we still need to make sure we’re staffing fully.”

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