Paratransit staffing shortages hitting Rochester Public Transit

Published: Sep. 18, 2023 at 9:09 AM CDT
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ROCHESTER, Minn. (KTTC) – Rochester’s ZIPS paratransit program is in need of drivers. At Monday’s city council meeting, public works officials are looking to secure some funding to help alleviate this problem.

Their plan includes asking the council to authorize funds for recruitment for a Mobility & Outreach Coordinator.

ZIPS is a transportation service for people who cannot use Rochester Public Transit’s bus service due to a disability.

A recent transit development plan compared RPT to other city’s transit departments and found that RPT was understaffed, and operations would improve if new positions were added to paratransit.

Right now, paratransit responsibilities are falling on the Transit and Parking Assistant, and public works leaders say it’s becoming too much. As a result of this, the paratransit program has become less reliable.

There are currently three open positions for ZIPS drivers.

“We will train anyone who’s interested in driving professionally, as long a person has an interest in public transit, has good customers service skills, obviously they need to be a good driver, safety is our main concern,” Nick Lemmer, RPT Communications & Engagement Coordinator said, “They’re welcome to approach our contractor Trans Dev and inquire about a career as a driver.”

The new proposed requirement efforts will cost around $40,000, funded by Transit ARPA, state, or federal funding.

The city council meeting starts at 7 Monday night.