DETROIT (WXYZ) — As reported back in September, some big changes are set to take place for metro Detroit commuters relying on public buses next month. Starting November 15th three DDOT routes will be cut while others will operate less frequently.
The department says it's due to the driver shortage, lower ridership levels and that’s why they are ‘right-sizing the system.
But these changes are now turning out to be worrisome for passenger and bus operators.
ATU Local 26 President, Glenn Tolbert says the upcoming schedule will increase wait times.
"45 minutes was terrible to ask someone to wait now you are talking about an hour it's going to get… it's going to get worse before it gets better," says Glenn Tolbert.
According to Glenn, the new schedule is unwarranted.
"I wish they had come to the union and maybe we could have helped them find routes and times that can be cut and we could’ve worked together but it didn’t happen," says Glenn Tolbert.
But Executive Director of Transit for DDOT & DPM Mikel Oglesby says the union was aware and everyone’s feedback was taken into consideration.
"A lot of the changes we are moving forward with the operators had a voice in," says Mikel Oglesby.
Meanwhile, as per Glenn none of these changes aim to improve the poor working conditions for bus operators, who struggle with long working hours, few breaks, and limited restroom options, resulting in more drivers leaving than being hired.
"We get seven in the class, we lose seven going to SMART, going to Ann Arbor because we are not being paid as we should be," says Glenn Tolbert.
"It's surprising that the union would say that salaries are poor when we had just finalized the deal that our operators for the first time in years would make just as much as our sister agency smart," says Mikel Oglesby.
At the moment there are 407 operators in service and 18 additional in training.
DDOT is in the process of hiring more and aims to build back the service with hopes to make it better than before.
"The way that we are setting up, is that we are giving a date and time and at that time, the bus will be there and they can schedule it around. We are right-sizing the service. We are not trying to cut anything," says Mikel Oglesby.