Alligator File Photo

Update 11 a.m. Monday:

City Route Changes

Route Number Frequency Change 
112 to 15 minutes
Reduced Hours 
10 Reduced Hours 
12 15 to 30 minutes in the afternoon and evening
19 Discontinued 
20 12 to 15 minutes 
29 Discontinued
34 20 to 30 minutes
35 10 to 13 minutes 
38 12 to 15 minutes 
40 30 to 65 minutes 

Campus Route Changes

Route Number Frequency Change 
 11716 to 32 minutes
 12515 to 30 minutes 
 12610 to 20 minutes

Later Gator Route Changes

Route Number Frequency Change 
 300 WednesdayDiscontinued
 300 Thurs. - Sat.13 to 26 minutes
 301 Thurs. - Sat.20 to 30 minutes
 302 Thurs. - Sat.25 to 38 minutes

Original Story:

Regional Transit System buses will be harder to catch starting next Monday.

Service from about 15 city and campus bus routes will be cut back for the rest of Spring semester due to a shortage of drivers, said RTS spokesperson Chip Skinner.

“People will just have to plan accordingly so they aren’t late for work or class,” he said.

The reduced service will mean less buses arriving at stops. Five campus buses and 10 off-campus buses will see a change. Skinner said bus stop wait times will increase from 12 minutes to 24 minutes in some cases.

Details on the specific route changes will be announced today on the RTS website.

Skinner said morning and afternoon commuters may not notice a difference, but Later Gators’ Wednesday service, which runs from 8:30 p.m. to 2:30 a.m. may be canceled with the new changes.

He said the decision to scale back bus service was influenced by a lack of available bus drivers and declining ridership.

According to Alligator archives, RTS ridership averaged about 10 million in 2013. In 2013, the ridership was fewer than that.

Skinner attributed a decline in ridership to a scooter boom among UF students, cheaper gas prices and the rising popularity of Uber and other ride-sharing services.

The Gainesville Sun reported the city expects to lose about 190,000 riders during March and April, which would cost RTS $52,000 a week in revenue.

RTS would need about 30 more drivers to be fully staffed again. New drivers don't start until two- to three-months after their initial interview. Many applicants leave during the process, Skinner said. Only about 40 percent of those interested end up becoming drivers.

The driver shortage RTS is experiencing is affecting other transit systems statewide, he said. With lower unemployment rates, people can afford to take on better paying jobs. RTS drivers currently make $12.75 per hour.

“It’s very difficult for us to recruit and maintain our workforce,” he said.

Gainesville’s unemployment rate is the lowest it has been in the last decade. The rate was 3.2 percent in December, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Romeo Mati Jr., a 20-year-old UF biology junior, is anxious ahead of RTS’ announcement about which routes will be affected. He takes the 20 bus route from his off-campus apartment to class.

“Depending on if it’s my routes or not, I might not even be able to get on the bus if it’s packed,” he said.

Correction: This story has been updated to reflect that new RTS drivers can't start until two-to-three months after their initial interview. A previous version of this story said it took two-to-three months for a background check alone. It has also been clarified that changes to route 12 only affect afternoon and evening hours.

Contact Elliott Nasby at [email protected]. Follow Elliott on Twitter at @_ElohEl.


Elliott Nasby is a staff writer who covers UF's administration.