GLENS FALLS, N.Y. (NEWS10) – Greater Glens Falls Transit (GGFT) operates 18 buses – ten traditional, plus eight red trolleys that move to and from the village of Lake George in the summers. Since late last year, the transit authority has had to adjust to a lack of new staff – and they’re working to make up the difference.
On Wednesday, the GGFT offered up its staff and buses to prospective drivers, mechanics, and more, in an open house aimed at filling positions in several areas. A couple of interested candidates had come through the doors by around noon – and the authority sees any promising face as valuable.
“When you think of COVID, you think of sickness. This is because of COVID, but it isn’t so much because of sickness,” said GGFT Transportation Director Scott Sopczyk. “I think COVID changed work patterns. It changed a lot of things about how the workforce works, and that was a defining thing with how people look for jobs.”
GGFT is hoping to fill in job openings including seasonal and year-round bus drivers, diesel technicians, and mechanical assistants. The majority of recent openings at the service can be chalked up to retirement, Sopczyk says, with few new prospects stepping up to take the reins. Others have left for new jobs, at a higher rate than historically seen.
Meanwhile, travelers in Glens Falls and Queensbury have felt the impact of fewer bus drivers working. In April, two routes connecting downtown Glen Street to the Queensbury Walmart were consolidated into parts of the existing Route 19, to make up for a lack of drivers to cover them. Those changes are planned to be temporary – as long as new drivers step up to take the routes over.
“I think our benefits and wages are competitive, but there are just different expectations. Things like skilled labor, CDL drivers, and mechanics, there just aren’t as many as there were at one time. It’s more competitive,” Sopczyk said.
In the summer of 2021, GGFT saw driver issues first and foremost with its signature red trolleys that run to Lake George and back in the summers. Historically driven by off-season school bus drivers, shortages started there, as many of the grandparents who drive area buses had to step in and help with changing family dynamics.
Over the two years since, GGFT has looked to its downstate neighbor, the Capital District Transit Authority (CDTA) for aid. The two organizations are currently exploring a merger, which would allow that kind of help to continue, from the Capital Region to the North Country.
More information on GGFT jobs can be found on the transit authority website.