If it seems like there’s a shortage of employees in just about industry right now, it’s because there is.
The Buffalo Niagara Partnership says nearly every employer in Western New York is dealing with it, regardless of industry or size.
The transportation industry is no different. The NFTA is dealing with a significant bus driver shortage.
At 4:43 a.m. every day, Erica Alexander begins her day at work.
“Just mellow out. Get myself together. Clean my bus. Talk to a few drivers,” she said.
Alexander is a bus driver for the NFTA. She’s been a driver for 10 years. Her favorite part about what she does is getting to know her passengers.
“You find out a lot about the passengers,” Alexander said. “They become your regulars for the most part. You just build that bond with them. It makes your day go by a little bit smoother and easier, having the conversations with the riders that you know. How the day was, they wanna know how your day was. “
The NFTA is in need of more bus drivers like Alexander. Helen Tederous, the director of public affairs for the NFTA, said there are many reasons for the shortage.
“I think it’s a combination,” Tederous explained. “I think a lot of people are getting out of the workforce and like every other industry there’s just not enough people applying for this job.”
Normally, the NFTA has 624 bus operators, and now they have 40 openings. Tederous said it’s rare to see this many openings.
“I would say that it’s significant. Significant number of openings,” Tederous said.
Alexander has noticed the shortage of coworkers, but luckily it hasn’t impacted her daily routine much.
“We notice, but it’s nothing major or landing or anything. I notice some of the routes got token away. It’s a lot more work out there for us to do,” Alexander said.
Alexander hopes people grab the increased amount of opportunities now available.