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Asking for patience after Watertown changes CitiBus runs

Published: Dec. 7, 2021 at 5:50 PM EST
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WATERTOWN, New York (WWNY) - Watertown isn’t immune to staffing shortages and now the lack of bus drivers means routes will be cut back.

The city’s transit director, Kyle Meehan, says CitiBus will temporarily shorten its weekday schedule, adding the move feels like a gut punch to him and his staff.

Meanwhile, a city lawmaker urges patience from those who rely on the routes.

“I certainly understand their concerns. And again, this is temporary. So, it probably will be an inconvenience for some who rely on it on a daily basis, but we need to get through it and hopefully we don’t run into this problem again,” said Lisa Ruggiero, Watertown City Council member.

As of Tuesday, weekday routes, some starting as early as 7 a.m., will be pushed back to 8:20 a.m., and the afternoon runs will end 40 minutes sooner than usual at 5 p.m.

Meehan says CitiBus’ temporary change is due to a couple of drivers out of commission. He hopes to have them back in a few weeks. Then the schedule can return to normal.

Ruggiero says this highlights the need for more drivers.

“It’s hard to hire people. I think that maybe we need to look at that - if we can have somebody who’s a backup, a backup driver that the city can use when a situation like this happens,” she said.

According to Meehan, two people have applied to be bus drivers but, even if both are hired on, they’ll have some training to do before hitting the roads.

This comes as CitiBus was looking to move in the other direction. Meehan says CitiBus was close to expanding some of its routes.

But, they’ve put the brakes on those plans for now, maybe bringing it back up in January.

“The bigger picture of this whole route going countywide has been in the works for quite awhile now. So, I don’t think the two weeks are going to affect it,” said Ruggiero.

It should be noted the temporary changes don’t effect CitiBus’s Saturday schedule. Again, only weekday routes have been shortened.

Paratransit services stay the same too. Those are run by Cleveland Services.

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