NORMAL, Ill. (WMBD) — The Twin Cities’ public transportation system is reducing service beginning Sunday due to a labor shortage.

Beginning Dec. 18, weekend transit will be reduced. The new schedules are based on current ridership trends.

“These reductions are our way of providing reliability and stability to our service. We have chosen to make these reductions preemptively to avoid missing various service on a day-to-day basis and to avoid further reducing our weekday services,” said a press release from Connect Transit.

The change will see a core transit service providing access to key areas before beginning other routes later in the morning and throughout the day, based on when most passengers use the service.

General Manager David Braun said they’re working on ways to promote their job openings and recently raised starting pay to $22/hour.

“We’ve just reached out to Heartland Community College and their CDL program to see if they’d be willing to work with us and refer their trainees to our opportunities so we hope to create a good working relationship with them moving on,” Braun said.

Braun said the reduction comes at a time when ridership is on the rise and rebound from the pandemic.

“Ridership overall was increasing by about 17% so ridership is actually building again. I feel this might impact that a little bit especially those who do use the service early in the morning on weekends,” Braun said.

Braun said 12 new drivers start in January so he hopes the reduction of weekend hours is short lived.

The Redbird Express and the Sapphire Route will not be affected.

All routes will be finished by 8 p.m. on Saturdays and 7 p.m. on Sundays. For the most up-to-date individual route guides, please visit https://www.connect-transit.com/routes/route-map-pdfs.

For up-to-date information on bus services, please call 309-828-9833, or visit their website at www.connect-transit.com. Stay informed by following Connect Transit on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and TikTok.