NYC subway, bus service still suffering staff shortages

The MTA is still struggling to staff trains and buses a year after The Post and other outlets reported that a shortage of workers was driving train delays and cancellations, officials said.

New York City Transit President Rich Davey said in a memo on Friday that he plans to launch a “working group” to address ongoing challenges with “crew availability,” which according to MTA data caused a quarter of the weekday train delays in June.

“The most important factor to increase service delivery is maintaining consistent and sufficient staffing,” Davey wrote in the memo, which was obtained by The Post.

The MTA’s operating workforce shrunk significantly in the depths of the COVID-19 crisis, when retirements soared and officials instituted a hiring freeze to offset revenue losses.

Officials have since hired more personnel, but the agency has yet to match the number of bus and train operators it had on payroll before the pandemic, a senior official said.

The agency will be fully staffed on buses by the end of the summer, and on trains by the beginning of 2023, the official said — later than had previously been disclosed.

A general view of an MTA bus as seen in New York, NY on July 9, 2022.
Transit officials reported nearly 33,000 weekday delays in June.
Christopher Sadowski

In the meantime, the working groups hope to take steps to incentivize good attendance.

A “care and aware” program that was piloted at two bus depots in 2019 will resume, the official said.

The program aims to provide social services and other resources to support workers who have been injured on the job for whatever reason, and was shown to increase employee availability by 25% during the pilot.

“It’s not just about hiring up, but also creating a safe employee work environment,” the official said.

“The bottom line is we need more people, and when we have them we need them to be operating our trains and buses so we can reduce or eliminate these wait times and service disruptions.”

The Post reported in June 2021 that the staff shortage had forced thousands of subway and bus cancellations due to lack of train conductors, train operators and bus drivers.

By December officials had declared partial victory — but the number of crew-related delays is up 7% since then.

Transit officials reported nearly 33,000 weekday delays in June, the most recent month of available stats. Some 8,676 of those were caused by crew shortages — more than any other category.

On weekends, the percentage of staffing-induced delays was even higher, 32.6%.