Mountain Line alters routes amid driver shortage

MISSOULA, Mont. - As worker shortages continue to make an impact across the state, Missoula's Mountain Line buses are now having to change its routes as the company works to hire more drivers. 

The biggest impacts are for routes 8 and 12. These will now run hourly, no matter what time of day. 

Mountain Line also had to suspend its Out to Lunch trolley on Wednesdays and Shanti Johnson, communications, outreach and marketing specialist for Mountain Line, said to expect more route changes later on in July. 

The bus service is eight operators short, working with 42 drivers rather than the ideal 50. 

Johnson said there were a handful of early retirements, prompted by the pandemic, that came faster than the company expected. 

Now, as the company catches up, there's a new level of competition when it comes to hiring drivers. 

"There's things that have come up that we would have never anticipated," Johnson said. "For example, we did have one person slated to start with us, and then their current employer was able to offer them a huge bonus and pay their rent. And that was just something we didn't expect." 

There is a full new class of drivers set to start training later this month. 

However, it takes six weeks to fully train a new driver, so it's not a quick fix. 

Mountain Line is still actively hiring and looking to fill another class to train starting in August.

Until then, stay up to date with schedule changes here

For more information on applying to be an operator, click here. 

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