Met Council has a new director of equal opportunity but not enough bus drivers. Some Routes Suspended.

As I was getting ready for the day, I heard a news report that bus routes were suspended as of tomorrow due to a lack of bus drivers. I thought, “Well that is unimpressive, not to mention short notice.”

One of the Met Council’s core functions is transit. I could not help wondering if the Council focused more on delivering good transit, rather than trying to re-arrange the metro area according to its own “progressive” political and social agenda, maybe it would not find itself without enough drivers. Or at least have a plan more creative than immediate suspensions.

Metro Transit is indefinitely suspending trips along dozens of bus routes beginning Tuesday, citing a growing shortage of bus drivers.

The state’s largest bus operator announced the cancellations in a news release posted on its website Monday night. More than 65 trips spread between 40 bus routes across the metro area will be suspended.

No doubt the Council is feeling the pinch of Baby Boomers retiring ; but the Council, along with other employers, have known for decades that this day was coming. Perhaps this is an opportunity to bring some creativity to the Council’s transit program. Maybe the bus routes that have been suspended are good candidates for a re-do. Maybe the Council’s whole approach is due for a change.

Have you ever noticed that the Metro Mobility vans are either empty or have one passenger? I think they hold about a dozen people. Why not use Uber or Lyft (or private vans) to provide that service? Then those under-utilized drivers could be trained for the big buses. (By the way, expenses for the Metro Mobility program, which is a welfare program, are skyrocketing and hurting actual transit funding. Maybe it is time to move the program out of the purview of the Met Council and under HHS?)

Why are some buses jammed packed and others are nearly, if not completely, empty? There is a route that goes through Minnetonka, Deephaven and Excelsior. It picks up a handful of commuters at most. But it runs off-hours, too! I see it at night, totally empty. Why not suspend those routes and re-deploy those drivers?

Is it really efficient to have full-sized buses picking up people in Deephaven, ever?

But I digress.

This afternoon I got a cheery email, typical of the Met Council’s self-congratulatory tone:

“Cyrenthia’s commitment to public service and equity in her career makes her the ideal person to administer the equity and equal opportunity principles established in Thrive MSP 2040,” said Alene Tchourumoff, Chair of the Council. “She is a partnership builder, focused on collaboration and transparency. Those skills are crucial in the role of Director of Equal Opportunity, where Cyrenthia will lead the Council’s Affirmative Action and Equal Opportunity plans, administer business inclusion programs, investigate discrimination complaints, and serve as a leader on building equity into all of the regional services the Council provides.”

Maybe the new Director of Equal Opportunity could be trained to drive a bus.