KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — The Knoxville Transportation Authority approved bus route service reductions to combat a workforce shortage.
The reductions will start on Aug. 29, cut two routes and reduce services on most routes that are not the company's core routes, according to Knoxville Area Transit.
Route 10-- Sequoyah and Route 19-- Lakeshore have been eliminated and will soon no longer run.
In addition, KAT said it will reduce all Saturday and weekday evening services with the exception of the core routers, and cut service on Sunday after 5:15 p.m.
The "core routes" are 11, 12, 22, 31 and 41.
The full list of approved service reductions can be found below:
- Elimination of Routes 10 – Sequoyah and 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
Paratransit lift services will remain the same, as well as weekday and Saturday hours. The lift service stops on Sundays at 6:30 p.m.
KAT has also changed 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.
Belinda Woodiel-Brill, the KAT director of planning and public information, said these route changes were based on ridership because most people ride KAT buses during the workweek and Saturday, during the day.
"We had a workforce shortage like a lot of places in the country," Woodiel-Brill said. "We are not immune to that."
Woodiel-Brill said KAT is about 50 operators short of what it needs to operate its pre-COVID service.
“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.”
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.