BROWNSVILLE, Texas (ValleyCentral) — A bus driver shortage in Brownsville is causing the Brownsville Multimodal Transportation Department to cancel some routes.

Gennie Garcia, the deputy director for the Brownsville Multimodal Transportation Department said the cancelations are temporary as they work to fill open bus operator positions.

“I would say it’s an inconvenience for us,” said Janeth Castro, a Brownsville Metro passenger.

Castro said she depends on the transit system to get her to and from work, but the changes to the route caught her off guard.

“Right now, it’s already behind about half an hour and it’s an inconvenience for us that are going to work,” she said.

She said she would need to take a taxi to get to work on time.

Victor Torres, a Brownsville resident and also a Brownsville Metro passenger said the unexpected changes also inconvenienced him.

“I already have half a day without eating and it’s already going to be five or six hours without eating because there are no buses,” said Torres.

Torres said he uses the transit system every day and is hoping the changes do not interfere with his medical appointments.

“Right now, I’m waiting at the central location and it didn’t arrive and now I’m waiting to see if this one arrives and I don’t know, it hasn’t arrived. I don’t know what’s going to happen,” he said.

Gennie Garcia explained that they are experiencing what they call a “bus operator shortage crisis” but said it is happening across the nation.

“Currently we’ve had to reduce our schedule. We’ve reduced our schedule by about 19 trips per day, effective August 1st, due to the shortage of drivers,” she said.

The routes include the Jefferson and Southmost Road areas.

She said the industry-wide shortage is partly due to the great resignation, the schedule, and the pay but explained that they are working on retaining and recruiting more drivers.

“We’re actually trying to implement some solutions to hire new drivers, such as our CDL Driver Academy, and with that, there’s a $2,000 sign-on bonus. The wages start from $13.38 to $16.00 an hour, depending on your experience,” she said.

Garcia said they are also working on increasing driver wages and have implemented a monthly retention stipend program for drivers.

She said they have eight openings and there are some candidates in their pipeline.

“This is a time that’s a little difficult for us to put buses on the road and keep things going. If the community can be patient with us and call the customer service, we’ll help you plan your trip and get you to your destination as quickly as possible,” said Garcia.

For more information on Brownsville Metro and routes, you can visit their website or call their Customer Service Center at (956)548-6050 or the Information Desk at (956) 541-4881.