The Butler County Regional Transit Authority is considering temporarily suspending three bus routes because of nationwide pandemic-induced staffing shortages.
BCRTA Executive Director Matt Dutkevicz stressed it is just a proposal at this point, but they probably need to temporarily suspend the R-2 route between Oxford and Middletown, the R-4 bus that runs from Hamilton to Tri County — the R-6 route virtually mirrors the R-4 route — and the door-to-door BGo buses that run up to the South Dayton hub in Montgomery County.
“Unfortunately, like many of our peers and other businesses, we are struggling as an agency to recruit employees lost during the pandemic and keep up with service demands,” Dutkevicz said. “We are pulling together all the resources we have and deploying them to the best of our abilities as quickly as possible, but it is simply not enough.”
He said they will hold a virtual public hearing at 6 p.m. Sept. 21 to take comments on how the service interruption might impact people. People can access the meeting and post comments here: https://www.butlercountyrta.com/public-hearing-proposed-r2-r4-and-bgo-service-cuts/.
Many of the routes have rebounded nicely after the height of the pandemic, when ridership all but stopped. But these three have been sluggish. He said they need to put resources where the demand is, especially the other BGo services.
“We’re trying to put resources where we need them. I’d love to hire extra drivers and do everything. I think those services will rebound eventually, but they’re just not there yet,” Dutkevicz said.
Earlier this year Dutkevicz told the Journal-News the ridership for the West Chester route “dropped off a cliff,” about 95% in all. The Oxford routes were strongly affected with a decrease of about 90%, largely because Miami University students were away from campus for long periods.
Ridership on the Middletown routes and the Job Connector only dropped by about 15%. Overall ridership dropped 64%, from 620,320 in 2019 to 222,718 last year.