Now Hiring Michiana: Transpo in need of drivers amid staffing shortage
Over the past several months, Transpo has faced a staffing shortage, contributing to less bus services across Michiana. And that’s left many riders to adjust their ride.
“I’ve been riding these buses for 25-26 years," said Transpo rider Blackie Fincher. “Well when they had the shortage of drivers, you had to walk maybe a mile or two.”
“So our passengers, fortunately, most of them have been very supportive," said Amy Hill, CEO of Transpo. "They do have to reach out each morning. They need to check our Facebook page, our social media to see which trips are running. So they may have to make an adjustment either leave earlier or later or find another route to take, so it can certainly be a challenge to get people where they need to go.”
But what’s it like to drive a 35-foot Transpo bus? There’s only one way to find out.
I talked with Kevin Edwards, a driver of 18 years at Transpo, and in his nearly two decades of service, he’s never seen a staffing shortage to this extent and he’s had to play catch-up to get people where they need to go.
He says he’s picked up 60-plus hour weeks all year due to the shortage but his riders have shown their gratitude.
"It's been tough it's been really tough," said Edwards. "The passengers, you know they feel it and they let us know sometimes in a good way or they'll tell us they appreciate us and they appreciate what we do, they see us stepping up here early, staying late."
And it’s the community that Edwards sees every day that keeps him coming back.
“A lot of people think, that you’re doing the same route all the time, so it might get a little boring, but that's not the case," he said. "Meeting different people all the time, seeing different things out in the community, it's really just a joy to work with the community."
“Transpo provides a service, a vital connection to get people to employment opportunities, doctor’s appointments, so we really do have a dedicated workforce that really values that service that they provide for the community,” said Hill.
Whether he’s transporting firefighters to be relieved from a large fire, or driving students to school, the South Bend native gives back to his community every day.