Helena resumes transit service to East Helena amid staffing shortage

Nolan Lister

The Helena Transportation Systems Department announced Tuesday that its Capital Transit service to East Helena, which was suspended Jan. 6, has resumed on a limited basis. 

The East Valley bus route will operate on weekdays from 8 to 10 a.m. and 2 to 4 p.m., according to a city news release sent out Tuesday.

The suspension of service came after the city noted a shortage of drivers.

In an email Tuesday, Transportation Systems Deputy Director Chris Couey said Capital Transit has the authority to hire 10 full-time drivers, three part-time drivers and one dispatcher, who can also fill in as a driver when needed. However, the department currently employs nine full-time drivers, one part-time driver and one dispatcher.

Couey said four of the current 11 employees are on extended absences, leaving the city with only seven drivers at the moment.

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“The sudden absences that caused the suspension have not yet been resolved,” Couey said. “We are shuffling our drivers as efficiently as possible to accommodate a limited level of service for the East Helena route so as to provide the community with a reliable transportation option.

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