PITTSFIELD — Local public transit riders might need to find alternative transportation during weekdays.
The Berkshire Regional Transit Authority announced Tuesday that a shortage of bus drivers has forced the BRTA to implement service cutbacks starting Sunday.
A lack of qualified drivers available to operate the “B” buses will result in a reduction of fixed bus routes and paratransit service, BRTA officials said. Saturday schedules are not affected.
BRTA Administrator Robert Malnati says the cutbacks are expected to last six to eight weeks, during which time the transit authority aggressively will be hiring and training new drivers.
“We had some of our operators leave the area and other folks leave for other entities, but the majority of them relocated down South,” he said.
The BRTA currently has 27 fixed-route drivers but needs 35 to be at full strength and operate all routes safely, Malnati said. He added that the number of paratransit driver needs to go from the current eight to 11.
The bus routes affected by the service cuts:
• Route 4: Service starts at 6:05 a.m. at the Intermodal Transportation Center, will run every two hours, and end at 5:48 p.m. at the center.
• Route 5: Operates on Saturday schedule, departing every two hours beginning at 8:30 a.m. and ending at 5:20 p.m.
• Route 11: Service starts at 7:35 a.m. from the center, will run every two hours, ending at 5:16 p.m. at the center.
• Route 14: No service until 6:30 p.m. for pilot evening service, ending at 10:40 p.m. in the Downing Garage.
• Route 15: Operates on Saturday schedule, departing every two hours beginning at 8 a.m. and ending at 6:30 p.m.
• Route 16: Operates on Saturday schedule, departing every two hours beginning at 9:30 a.m. and ending at 6 p.m.
• Route 21 X: Canceled: 7 a.m. trip at the center and 7:45 a.m. departure at the Fairgrounds Plaza.
All other trips operate on the normal schedule.
Paratransit Americans with Disabilities Act and non-ADA service will be on hiatus for Sunday and holiday service.