Updated: November 25, 2021 10:41 PM
Created: November 04, 2021 06:18 PM
A lack of charter bus drivers is presenting challenges to riders who use long-distance travel.
"Anybody that runs a bus company does not want to see buses parked. A bus parked is telling you that it's not out generating revenue," Steve Woelfel, the CEO and president of Jefferson Lines, said.
Woelfel explained Jefferson Lines charter bus drivers are hard to come by and the shortage is canceling about 5% of their routes.
"We still are probably operating about 20% fewer miles than we used to operate pre-pandemic. So there's some communities that we love to serve, we want to get back to serving, but we can't do it because we just don't have the workforce to do it," Woelfel said.
Woelfel said riders aren't buying tickets like they used to.
When the pandemic hit, passenger counts dropped 85%. Now, Jefferson Lines is back to about 40% but Woelfel said the industry is still losing traction.
"We have a huge financial issue because of the pandemic and we're just struggling to try to overcome that," Woelfel said. "The biggest fear is that we're going to see a lot of these family-run businesses just go out of business."
Woelfel said the answer is more federal funding to help with pandemic-related losses or buses will stay in the park for good.
"We've been here 103 years. We will be here another 97 to get to our 200-year anniversary but it definitely is a new set of challenges that we have not faced before," Woelfel said.
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