OATS Transit has endured a shortage of bus drivers since the beginning of the pandemic, said Administrative and Development Director Jill Stedem.
“We’ve had to suspend some areas because we are so short on drivers,” Stedem said. “We have a need for part-time and full-time drivers.”
OATS Transit is a 501©3 nonprofit operating in 87 counties in Missouri. OATS stands for “Operating Above The Standard,” and it provides transportation for the rural general public, senior citizens and people with disabilities in Missouri.
Prior to COVID-19, OATS was staffed with 750 employees, counting both drivers and office workers. Now, the company employs 460 drivers and 100 office workers.
OATS is short about 145 bus drivers statewide.
Because of the shortage, the service has struggled to fulfill all of its scheduled rides. These rides have usually been for nonessential purposes such as going shopping or getting groceries, Stedem said.
OATS Transit is open for regular service. Masks are required on the buses, in accordance with Federal Transit Administration rules.
Riders can call the OATS Transit office at 573-449-3789 or 800-269-6287 to schedule a ride or find out about their services.
They can also visit the website at www.oatstransit.org and click on the tab “Bus Schedules.” Then, click on “Boone County” to see the full schedule.
OATS Transit is available to anyone regardless of age, income, disability, race, gender, religion or national origin.
OATS offices will be closed for Thanksgiving on Nov. 25 and 26.