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DIGGING DEEPER: RTA facing driver shortage causing long wait times for riders

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TUCSON (KVOA) - Some riders of the Totalride shuttle service in Tucson said they have waited for 45 minutes to over an hour after their scheduled times for a ride. 

Totalride is contracted through the Regional Transit Authority. 

Lois Bowen said her son, who is in a wheelchair, recently had a scheduled pick-up at his church. Bowen said her son waited for more than an hour in triple-digit heat. The ride was scheduled at 12:45 p.m. and did not arrive until after 1:30 p.m. 

Bowen said she worries about it being dangerous for the elderly and disabled having to wait in the heat. 

“It gives him a chance to be independent and do the things he wants to do," Bowen said. "If you can’t fulfill the service, don’t schedule it. Don’t leave people hanging.”

The Digging Deeper team reached out to the RTA. Its communications director, Eric Flaven said they are aware of the delays and that it’s due to a driver shortage. He said the shortage is impacting private and public transportation services nationwide. 

As far as recommendations for riders he sent the following statement: 

“We recommend that passengers wait in a safe/climate-controlled area while waiting for the vehicle to arrive and ensure that they properly hydrate during inclement weather. Upon 30/15/5 minutes prior to arrival, passengers are sent text messages to notify them of the driver’s estimated time of arrival so that they know when to go outside and meet the driver. This communication allows the passenger to plan and minimize exposure to inclement weather.” 

He said riders facing issues should call an emergency helpline at 623-240-4556. 

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Chorus Nylander

Chorus Nylander is the Chief Investigative Reporter for News 4 Tucson. He is focused on giving the voiceless a voice and holding the powerful accountable.

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