Coast RTA seeing bus driver shortage as COVID-19 cases surge

Published: Jan. 10, 2022 at 6:33 AM EST
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MYRTLE BEACH, S.C. (WMBF) - With COVID-19 cases surging in the state of South Carolina due to the omicron variant, many businesses are continuing to deal with staff shortages.

That also extends to public services, such as a Coast RTA - which is seeing a shortage of bus drivers. Many drivers face new people each day without knowing if they are infected or are bound to get COVID-19 if they aren’t careful.

Alban Alla, a driver with Coast RTA, has been dealing with the virus and shortages since last summer.

“It’s stressful,” he said. “We are afraid if we are going to get it. We don’t know what kind of passengers are in the bus. So we are afraid we are going to take it to our loved ones.”

Despite the overtime and frustration he’s has dealt with, Alla said won’t stop him from helping others.

“Is still a passion of mine to drive the bus,” he said. “I love driving the vehicle and helping up people getting where they are going. Still Providing the service to them.”

Coast RTA implemented a “no mask, no ride” policy in September, falling in with federal mask requirements. CEO and General Manager Bryan Piasick said there are many ways to keep their drivers and their customers safe.

“It’s always been a tough job. Only made tougher by new protocols and trying to keep everybody safe,” he said.

Coast RTA put up shields for drivers since the pandemic began and have provided masks if needed. Daily bus cleanings have also become standard.

They’re also now serving rides to Grand Strand Hospital to anyone who needs it.

“Hopefully we are doing our part to not spread the virus,” said Piasick.

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