Several outlying communities will have to do without public transport as of Friday.
The Sangamon Transit District announced Thursday that it was temporarily suspending routes to Chatham, Riverton, Rochester and Sherman due to a staff shortage until January 18.
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In a press release Thursday, SMTD chief executive Steve Schoeffel said the personnel issues were the result of “a perfect storm” of circumstances, including regular year-end vacation, military leave, absences under the Family and Medical Leave Act, as well as the usual seasonal sickness calls.
SMTD had faced “a handful of absences” due to positive COVID-19 tests or exposure to family members.
“No agency likes to cut services or suspend services the same way no business wants to do the same,” said Dave Kimsey, chairman of the Village of Chatham. “But that’s the challenge we all face now.
“We hope that (the suspension) is temporary. It is a welcome addition that the GTDS offers regular routes through the city. At the same time, with everything going on and associated with the time of year, it it’s hard to be able to keep things going. I hope they can get back to it and get back to what they’re really good at. “
Schoeffel said he believes the temporary suspension will provide some relief to operators, who have worked mandatory overtime so that SMTD can provide full service.
“We were already struggling to train classes to increase our numbers,” added Schoeffel. “A higher than normal number of people on leave or sick leave have combined to force a lot of mandatory overtime that just isn’t sustainable over a long period of time.”
Passengers from affected communities can call SMTD’s Access Paratransit office at 217-522-8594 24 hours in advance to plan a trip while service is suspended.
Contact Steven Spearie: 217-622-1788, [email protected], twitter.com/@StevenSpearie.