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Bus Driver Shortage Causes Route Changes in Portage County

Denise Baba
PARTA drivers have been protected during COVID-19 by these shields, custom made by a PARTA employee. The public transit agency is having a hard time finding enough drivers to maintain current routes.

A shortage of drivers is forcing Portage County’s public transportation agency to reduce bus service on certain routes in both Kent and Ravenna starting June 13.

General Manager of PARTA Claudia Amrhein said although they have been rigorously advertising for drivers, applicant numbers have been low, possibly due to higher wages at other driving or service jobs.

Claudia Amrhein, General Manager of PARTA (Portage Area Regional Transportation Authority)
A photo of Claudia Amrhein

“We are planning to look at every option that we have for adjusting wages," Amrhein said. "We’ve approached our driver’s union and we’re going to be looking internally this summer, taking a good, hard look at what we can do with the funding and the resources that we have.”

PARTA has looked into the most frequent ridership times and will be maintaining services as best it can during high-traffic times. These changes will not affect Kent State University bus routes.

Kelsey Paulus is a Junior studying journalism at Kent State University. She is pursuing her Bachelor’s Degree in journalism with a minor in design. Along with interning for WKSU, Kelsey is also a co-producer of TV2’s kentcore and a designer for A Magazine. She is an aspiring music journalist and hopes to work in the magazine industry someday.