(WXYZ) — A bus driver shortage is causing widespread problems for SMART riders on the regional public transit.
Riders in Macomb, Oakland and Wayne counties are experiencing longer wait times at stops.
There are a list of service changes starting January 2020.
Some frustrated SMART riders in Birmingham said the level of service is inadequate and needs immediate improvements.
SMART BUS PROBLEMS: Riders say the public transit is rarely on time and some routes get cancelled without any notice.— Rudy Harper (@RudyHarperWXYZ) December 24, 2019
Rider: “It’s supposed to be a convenience for us and it’s an inconvenience.”
SMART says they don’t have enough drivers. @tv20detroit @wxyzdetroit pic.twitter.com/k7uShFF3eR
Rider Mark McHale works near downtown Birmingham and said the bus often makes him late for work.
"I've been threaten to be fired," McHale said.
Another rider said he's also been close to being fired.
"If my boss wasn't so generous, I'd probably have been fired a couple times," rider Shawn Rodgers told 7 Action News.
SMART is supported by federal and state tax dollars. Their website claims their services are on time 86 percent of the time.
The number of bus routes cut and or delayed is unknown. However, SMART admitted there is an ongoing issue.
“SMART has been open about the driver shortage we are experiencing and understands the impact that has had on service and our customers," said John C. Hertel, general manager of SMAR. "SMART is not alone in dealing with this situation as it is a nationwide problem due to low unemployment. We have been actively recruiting for drivers, hosting a Career Fair in October with plans for more next year, working closely with Michigan Works! and their alliances, as well as conducting back-to-back driver training classes. There are currently 18 drivers in training now and they will be on the road soon. As we continue to hire more drivers we have seen improvements in our service. We are using every available method to promote the hiring of new drivers. And, hope that this story might attract even more interest to work at SMART.”
SMART is hiring. For more information, visit https://www.smartbus.org/About/Careers