Lack of bus operators forces SMART to cut trips, change schedules

Hayley Harding
The Detroit News

As many as a quarter of SMART bus service has been canceled or delayed on a daily basis, the transit agency said, as the spread of COVID-19 means bus operators aren't available.

The agency has had to cut trips and make changes to existing schedules as a result, it said in a news release.  

SMART, like many workplaces, has had to limit its operations because of a lack of workers, the agency said. It estimates it is down 80 bus operators, meaning it can only operate at 75% of its pre-pandemic levels.

"By scaling back service levels, riders will be assured of more reliable service to get to work or to other important destinations," the agency said in its release.

SMART is asking people to stay home if they're sick or have cold- or flu-like symptoms. Masks are required for the duration of any trips, as required by the Federal Transit Administration.

The agency is asking riders to check their trip information on its transit app to confirm arrivals in real time. By changing the existing schedules, the agency said, it is working to create "more reliable service" for those trying to get places.

In the meantime, it asks people to be patient with operators and with each other, and, if necessary, to call Customer Care at (866) 962-5515 with new extended hours from 5:30 a.m. to 10 p.m. weekdays, 7:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.