EVANSVILLE, Ind. (WEHT) – For someone with a physical disability, traveling can be challenging. But now, riders with disabilities are having a hard time finding transportation altogether because of a driver shortage in the city of Evansville. Megan Seiler has used METS’ mobility service up until 2022. She says that is when her routes to and from classes at Ivy Tech were being canceled, in some cases with less than a day’s notice.
“That’s when I realized this was a big problem,” says Seiler.
Seiler was forced to find alternative transportation services that are not always reliable.
“I have canceled multiple mental health therapy appointments. I’ve had to reschedule doctor’s appointments,” says Seiler. “We can’t just hop in a car and go get our meds.”
Another Ivy Tech student, Megan Durre, has faced similar challenges during this driver shortage.
“There was one night I was here until 8 o’clock,” recalls Durre. “I literally called my dad, bawling my eyes out going like, ‘I need a ride home’.” Durre adds, “I have had to ultimately start looking for other transportation, like private transportation, which can be more expensive.”
Durre says she needs consistent transportation to school to meet her credit hour requirement, while receiving scheduling assistance from Disability Support Advisor Leah Davis.
“It’s frustrating to me,” explains Davis, “because it can be just maybe faculty doesn’t understand what’s going on or why is this an issue.”
Evansville Transportation and Services Executive Director Todd Robertson says more than half of the department’s positions are vacant.
“We have a total of 83 slots, and 38 of them are open in some variation,” says Robertson.
Help may soon be on the way. Robertson tells Eyewitness News that the department is offering a $2,500 hiring bonus to attract bus driver applicants. Seiler hopes routes return to normal sooner than later.
“As someone who has seen the darkest of dark times and believed that there was no light,” explains Seiler, “It is important that we see that, for some people, a bus is that light.”