Bus driver shortage in Westmoreland County causing trouble for riders

Youngwood, Pa. — The bus garage in Youngwood is fully-stocked with buses, but the Westmoreland County Transit Authority is low on staff right now — they don’t have enough people to drive them.

Bus driver shortages are happening across the area, including for school children.

“Today (we) were up to about 500 trips a day, but aren’t we getting the applicants to come in and be drivers,” explained Westmoreland County Transit Authority representative Alan Blahovec.

The transit authority was forced to limit some of its GO Westmoreland services, primarily used by senior citizens, disabled residents and those with medical needs. The driver shortage has become so critical, it’s causing the riders to suffer.

“Today, our services are running late almost every day, so they’re having to wait longer; some are missing appointments they have at places. Medical trips come first, but some want to visit relatives or go shopping, and we just don’t have the service available for it.”

Alan Blahovec says they’re not quite up to where they were before the pandemic — but even with the high demand, they just can’t fill the seats or the services.

“Pre-pandemic we were doing about 800 trips a day and we had 50-55 drivers on the road each day. Today we’re doing about 500 trips, but only have about 27 drivers on the road.”

The transit says they’re hoping by adding a signing bonus and having an open job fair this week, they can find enough drivers to get back on the road.

“Our pay rate is $14.33 an hour right now and we are offering a $750 signing bonus. We offer health benefits, a retirement plan, everything we can.”

Westmoreland Transit is actually holding open interviews on Thursday from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. at its office on Bell Way in Greensburg, in hopes of filling that shortage and restoring those routes.