The lack of qualified drivers has led Grays Harbor Transit to announce weekend service will not resume until Jan. 3, 2022, at the earliest.
“Grays Harbor Transit had hoped to resume weekend service in July 2021 but had to reassess and then targeted September 2021,” read a transit statement released Friday. “However, like most transit agencies, we have faced challenges with restoring staffing of transit operators and supporting staff to pre-pandemic staffing levels.”
Grays Harbor County Commissioner Vickie Raines, who sits on the Grays Harbor Transit Board of Directors, said transit has been able to hire four operators recently, and another is currently in training. And transit is looking for more.
“We have many positions available in our area,” she said.
The topic of weekend service was brought up in an April transit board meeting by Ocean Shores Mayor Crystal Dingler, who said the lack of weekend service was hurting lodging services struggling to fill positions of their own. At that meeting, the board said they would work toward resuming weekend service in September.
Transit “has an aggressive hiring outreach program and will strive to resume weekend service on Jan. 3, 2022,” read the transit statement.
Weekend service was cut in 2013 when transit was going through budget challenges. It was brought back in 2017 and continued through March 2020 when it was cut again amid COVID-19 travel restrictions and diminishing ridership.
”A reduction in service levels, including suspension of weekend service, ensured that Grays Harbor Transit could provide safe and reliable service to the community,” read the statement. “Grays Harbor Transit is committed to bringing back full-service levels, including weekend service, as soon as possible.”
Starting wage for transit operators is more than $19 an hour, and Grays Harbor Transit will provide training for drivers to earn their CDL — transit “will train employees to obtain the required licensing, so prior transit operator experience in not required,” read Friday’s statement. Those hired are eligible for wage increases every six months. Full job requirements and applications are available online at ghtransit.com/jobs.
Meanwhile, you can still ride transit buses for free, with the regular $1 in-county fare suspended beginning Aug. 1 through the end of 2022. Out-of-county and other services still have fees attached, go to ghtransit.com/fares-and-passes for details.