Bus driver shortage leaving some Kitsap Co. passengers stranded


    BREMERTON, Wash. -- A supervisor working with one of eight driver applicants who will interview Wednesday says it won't be enough.

    Kitsap Transit is making day-by-day decisions about which routes to possibly adjust or cut in order to cope with a chronic shortage of drivers.

    "In 2015 we would receive on average 27 applications a month," said Kitsap Transit Executive Director John Clauson. "So far this year we're down to about fifteen a month. So were just not getting the applicants."

    Clauson says a convergence of factors has led to the pinch.

    The agency has well over 600 drivers, but an unusually high number are on medical leave, and an aging workforce means lots of retirements.

    Job-seekers also have more choices.

    "I think the economy is having its affect," said Clauson. "The job market throughout Puget Sound is strong. We're actually competing with our friends here at the Puget Sound Shipyard."

    Clauson says supervisors got behind the wheel Tuesday to help out. He says his agency will change some of its recruiting strategies in hopes of luring more applicants.

    In the meantime, some routes will be scaled back or temporarily eliminated to deal with the driver shortage.

    A supervisor says it's already happening.

    Passengers who rely on bus service say news of the shortfall makes them a little uneasy.

    "Because I need to be able to get from point A to point B," said Brianna Sons. "I hope they fill it a little faster because I need to ride the bus."

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