UMass Transit Services alters routes amid driver shortage

  • University of Massachusetts campus GAZETTE FILE PHOTO

For the Gazette
Published: 8/19/2021 10:27:36 AM

NORTHAMPTON – Buses that shuttle students between the five colleges will be operating on modified schedules for the upcoming semester due to a shortage of qualified drivers, according to officials.

PVTA Route 39 between Hampshire and Smith College will be canceled for the fall semester, Glenn Barrington, transportation director at UMass Transit Services, announced Wednesday. In addition to canceling Route 39, other routes are being scaled back.

PVTA routes 30, between Old Belchertown Road and Amherst, and 31, between Sunderland and South Amherst, will now run every 20 minutes. PVTA routes 34, the northbound UMass campus shuttle, and 35, the southbound UMass campus shuttle, will run every 22 minutes during daytime hours on weekdays.

In order to accommodate the reduced schedule, UMass Transit Services is encouraging students who live on-campus to walk or bike to their destinations. It also recommends that passengers “take a bus much earlier than anticipated in order to avoid overcrowding and arrive on time at their destination.”

UMass Transit Services also plans to run “Tripper” buses on weekday mornings and afternoons to help with the anticipated overcrowding.

Tripper buses are unscheduled buses that supplement service on routes 30 and 31 in the Amherst area, “picking up anyone left behind because of overcrowding,” transit services said in a statement.

UMass Transit Services is looking to hire more qualified bus drivers. It also is now “hiring students from all of the Five Colleges in the Five College Consortium for the first time in its history.” The job starts at $17/per hour after training, which pays minimum wage.

The PVTA also plans to begin a route between Amherst and Worcester, as soon as it can hire enough drivers. That bus will travel along Route 9 from Haigis Mall at UMass through the towns of Amherst, Belchertown, Ware, West Brookfield, Brookfield, East Brookfield, Spencer, Leicester and Union Station in Worcester. PVTA intends to charge a $9 fare for all riders.




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