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Knoxville Area Transit proposes eliminating 2 routes and reducing others; city to hold public hearing Thursday

KAT said the service reductions come as a result of not being able to find bus operators to run the routes.

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — Knoxville Area Transit is proposing some service reductions to its bus routes because it said it could not find enough drivers to continue running routes at the usual rates.

KAT said the Knoxville Transportation Authority will hold a public hearing on Thursday, July 7 to review and vote on proposed changes. If the changes are approved, they will take effect on August 29. The proposed changes are listed below.

  • Elimination of Route 10 – Sequoyah
  • Elimination of Route 19 – Lakeshore/Lonas
  • Reduction of all Sunday service schedules, with the last downtown departures at 5:15 p.m.
  • All weekday and Saturday evening service ends earlier, with the exception of core routes 11, 12, 22, 31 and 41 continuing through an 11:15 p.m. line-up.
  • Reduced hours on Route 13 – Beaumont
  • Reduced weekday frequency on Route 42 – UT/Ft. Sanders Hospitals
  • Reduced frequency on Orange and Green Line trolleys

KAT also proposed changes to two routes — servicing outbound traffic from West Town Mall via Gleason Drive and changing Route 12 to use 5th Avenue to the University of Tennessee through the Mechanicsville area.

KAT reduced service levels during the COVID-19 pandemic twice. Once, it was reduced in early 2020 and buses were able to return to regular levels that July.

It imposed the same reductions in November 2020, and KAT was able to return some services in March 2021. However, it has not been able to totally return to pre-pandemic service levels.

KAT also said it understood how the proposed changes could impact people who depend on public transportation for work. So, it said it would partner with the Knox County Community Action Committee transit program to give transportation to work, filling in gaps left by possible reduced service.

KAT passengers who need transportation in the evenings and on Sundays in areas where service would be reduced will be able to contact CAC to check its availability. The CAC can be reached at (865) 524-0319, according to the Knox County CAC website.

“This is a completely unprecedented situation,” said Isaac Thorne, director of transit for the city of Knoxville. “We currently have 156 operators out of the 200 needed to operate our pre-COVID service levels. Our bus operators are working hard to try to provide this current level of service to the community, but we must step back for a while with our service levels while we continue to redouble our hiring, training, and retention efforts.”

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