Tulsa Transit Experiencing Major Staffing Shortage

Tuesday, September 28th 2021, 5:13 pm
By: Jonathan Cooper

TULSA, Oklahoma -

Public transportation in Tulsa is now the latest industry feeling the effects of a tight job market.

Tulsa Transit says it’s now working on a Saturday level of service every day of the week because there simply are not enough bus drivers.

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"We're struggling, especially in the past month or so," said Ted Rieck, Tulsa Transit General Manager.

Rieck met with his board this afternoon to discuss the problem, which he says has gotten worse in recent months.

"Up until August or so we were doing alright," said Rieck.

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At last month's meeting, the board approved an 11 percent raise for drivers and mechanics, hoping to attract more employees. Rieck says the driver job market is competitive right now and they've lost some in recent months.

"The driver profession has really exploded since COVID because everyone is taking deliveries," said Rieck.

Rieck says they're also paying close attention to President Biden’s vaccine mandate and the impact on drivers. Right now, they’re awaiting further guidance from OSHA and other federal agencies. With only 50 percent of Tulsa Transit employees vaccinated, Rieck says they could potentially lose more employees if that takes effect.

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"Whether its Tulsa, or Tulsa Transit, or the US, there's a high degree of hesitancy on the vaccination so we're seeing that same issue ourselves," said Rieck.

If it's not required on the federal level, Rieck says they'll have their own internal discussions among themselves about whether vaccines will be required. Whatever happens though, he's optimistic they'll fix the shortage soon.

"We'll keep a close eye on it," he said.

The next board meeting is on October 26th.