In Houston, the public transportation system is offering new bus drivers bonuses of $4,000. For mechanics, it’s $8,000. In St. Louis, bus service has been cut by more than 10 percent. In New York, transportation officials are trying to lure retired subway operators back to their old jobs.
There just aren’t enough workers to keep these systems running. Labor shortages are plaguing public transportation systems in nearly every big city, disrupting one of the critical support systems of modern urban life and complicating the recovery of an industry that has struggled mightily during the pandemic. This is raising new challenges for many cities, which have already been battered by the pandemic.