Santa Clarita Transit down more than a dozen bus drivers for third day in a row

A city bus returns from its morning route at the Transit Maintenance Facility on Constellation Road. Gilbert Bernal \ The Signal

City of Santa Clarita Transit bus drivers representing nearly 20% of total driver assignments for a typical weekday said COVID-19 related reasons required them to call out from work Wednesday. 

In addition to those 17 bus drivers, one supervisor, one dispatcher, one member of the maintenance staff, and one call center staff member also called out from work Wednesday. 

“These call-outs are all due to possible exposure, needing to care for a family member or (a) reaction to getting vaccinated,” Adrian Aguilar, the city’s transit manager, told The Signal. “Santa Clarita Transit has not had an employee test positive for COVID in the past two months.” 

On Monday, 17 bus drivers called out from work, prompting delays in bus service that led Kathy Bullock to share her experience on social media. 

Bullock said Santa Clarita Transit does not service enough areas and called the existing service “unreliable.” 

“My son waited an hour this morning. The 7:35 bus never came but fortunately the 8:35 did (a.m.). He waited an hour,” she wrote in a popular local Facebook group. “Last week, a couple other days the buses did not come. They need to get it together.” 

Carrie Lujan, a spokeswoman for the city, said Tuesday evening that the city is “working to get other drivers trained and scheduled, but that takes time.” 

“The main priority is to provide safe travels for our passengers and our riders,” she said, noting that 15 drivers and one dispatcher called out for COVID-19-related issues on Tuesday. 

Since 2013, the city has contracted with MV Transportation to provide local and commuter bus service. 

“We take extensive safety measures,” said Aguilar, noting that the city’s contractor has installed Plexiglas barriers in the buses and sanitizes the buses on a daily basis. 

The city, he said, has also advanced its use of contactless bus fare payment. 

Many residents, including parents, aired their frustrations with the local bus service in the comment below Bullock’s post. 

“Last week my daughter had to wait for over an hour, in over 100-degree (temperature), because (two) buses never came,” wrote one parent. 

During the school year, city buses drive routes that “are designed to provide additional service capacity in areas around junior high and high school campuses,” according to Aguilar. 

Aguilar said riders can find the latest information about Santa Clarita Transit on Twitter, @SCTBus, which last tweeted Monday afternoon encouraging riders to use the bus service’s online trip planner. 

“We thank the community for their patience as we adapt to the increase in call-outs,” he said. “We are doing our best to prioritize routes and provide service, while maintaining safety for our drivers and passengers.” 

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