The commute to work, getting to the supermarket, or a doctor’s appointment via MARTA bus is going to take longer starting Dec. 18.

The AJC reported Thursday that MARTA will reduce bus service on 96 of its 113 routes due to a staffing shortage. The routes affected will go to a Saturday schedule.

Eleven of the most-used routes will maintain regular schedules, and six routes that don’t usually operate on Saturday will also keep a regular weekday schedule.

No routes are being eliminated and there will be no change to MARTA’s rail service.

MARTA CEO Jeffrey Parker told the transit agency’s board of directors on Thursday that the number of bus drivers had dropped from 1,366 to 1,179 – a 14% decrease.

Officials said the COVID-19 pandemic had played a large part in the staffing issues, with 921 employees testing positive for the virus, causing high absenteeism.

MARTA may have to terminate 60 more drivers in the coming days if they refused to get the COVID-19 vaccine or submitting to weekly testing.

Collin Kelley

Collin Kelley has been the editor of Atlanta Intown for two decades and has been a journalist and freelance writer for 35 years. He’s also an award-winning poet and novelist.