KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — Knoxville Area Transit announced Thursday that they were proposing some service reductions because they said they could not find enough bus operators to continue running routes at the usual rates.
They said the Knoxville Transportation Authority will hold a public hearing on July 7 to review and vote on proposed changes. If the changes are approved, they will take effect on August 29. The proposed changes are listed below.
- Elimination of Route 10 – Sequoyah
- Elimination of Route 19 – Lakeshore/Lonas
- Reduction of all Sunday service schedules, with the last downtown departures at 5:15 p.m.
- All weekday and Saturday evening service ends earlier, with the exception of core routes 11, 12, 22, 31 and 41 continuing through an 11:15 p.m. line-up.
- Reduced hours on Route 13 – Beaumont
- Reduced weekday frequency on Route 42 – UT/Ft. Sanders Hospitals
- Reduced frequency on Orange and Green Line trolleys
KAT also proposed changes to two routes — servicing outbound traffic from West Town Mall via Gleason Drive and changing Route 12 to use 5th Avenue to the University of Tennessee through the Mechanicsville area.
They said KAT reduced service levels during the COVID-19 pandemic twice. Once, it was reduced in early 2020 and they were able to return to regular levels in July.
They imposed the same reductions in November 2020, and they were able to return some services in March 2021. However, they were not able to totally return to pre-pandemic service levels.
KAT also said they understood how the proposed changes could impact people who depend on public transportation for work. So, they said they were partnering with the Knox County Community Action Committee Transit program to give transportation to work, filling in gaps left by possible reduced service.
They said KAT passengers who need transportation in the evenings and on Sundays in areas where service was reduced will be able to CAC to check their availability. They can be reached at (865) 524-0319, according to the Knox County CAC website.
"Knox County CAC will do their best to work with passenger schedules to provide work-related trips," KAT said in a release.
They said they need 200 bus operators to return to pre-pandemic service levels. However, they only have 156 bus operators on staff, they said.
"Our bus operators are working hard to try to provide this current level of service to the community, but we must step back for a while with our service levels while we continue to redouble our hiring, training, and retention efforts," said Isaac Thorne, the director of transit for Knoxville.