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GET faces unprecedented challenges in age of COVID | News – Bakersfield, California

Bakersfield, California 2021-09-27 21:30:00 –

Golden Empire Transit has faced many challenges since 1973, when it became a major public transport provider in Bakersfield.

After all, 2021 is no exception in the “Challenge” category.

Last week, GET’s board meeting simply addressed issues that couldn’t be ignored, such as cleaner bus state requirements, an organization’s declining workforce, and the need for an emergency response plan to maximize readiness. We have taken some steps designed for. We are losing some of our workforce and we are experiencing supply chain problems. “

GET CEO Karen King, who arrived on Monday, said the procedure approved by the board was the result of a long and detailed discussion between staff, trade unions, and King himself.

Long-distance switching from natural gas to electricity

“We had to submit a plan to the California Air Resources Board on how to achieve zero emissions by 2040,” King told California.

The answer was an electric bus. However, the biggest obstacle turned out to be the location of GET on the side road adjacent to Golden State Avenue northwest of F Street.

“Our existing facility is not big enough,” King said. “We cannot supply enough power to this facility.”

In other words, you need to move the GET someday. But in the meantime, they are moving towards their goals.

GET has chosen to use hydrogen battery technology rather than batteries for electric buses.

“Neither is a proven technology,” King said. And both are expensive.

Last week, the board approved the purchase of five fuel cell electric buses for next year’s delivery. This purchase follows the acquisition of five new buses that arrived last year but are not yet on the street.

“After the drivers and mechanics have been trained, they should be deployed this fall,” King said.

“Each costs about a million dollars,” she said. “This is almost twice the cost of a CNG (compressed natural gas) bus.”

Prevent employees from jumping on the ship

The board also approved a new employment and employee retention strategy to help GET’s shrinking workforce problem.

“Usually, the maintenance department has 49 employees,” said King. “Currently there are 18 people.

“We’re moving from three shifts to two shifts and we’re doing a lot of overtime,” she said.

“To get back to the pre-pandemic level, we need 260 bus operators, we’re short of 47, and the absentee level is very high,” King said.

To maintain a stable and qualified workforce, GET offers “carrots”. This is a $ 1,500 sign-on bonus for new employees.

In addition, she said all new employees need to be vaccinated against COVID-19.

“We do not require current employees to be vaccinated,” King said. “However, if you are vaccinated, we offer a $ 100 bonus.

“About 47 percent of our workforce is vaccinated, which is the percentage of people in our community who are vaccinated,” she said.

But if the protocol proposed by President Joe Biden bears fruit, the choice to work without vaccination may disappear. The Biden Protocol will require all employers with more than 100 employees to be vaccinated.

If that happens, King is worried, there may be more departures.

But there is another carrot.

The board also approved incentive payments for existing GET employees through December.

“This is a premium of 5 percent of the time you actually work,” King said.

If

To prepare for different scenarios, the GET Board also has a COVID-19 preparatory plan to provide different levels of service in the event of public transport loss of part of the workforce or supply chain problems. approved. It is difficult for GET to work with the desired capacity.

“There was a turmoil in the supply chain,” King said. “I can’t get parts or tires”

Challenges and unexpected obstacles are part of running any business. However, many of the problems King faces are rare, if not unprecedented.

All she can do is get ready and keep moving forward.

“We know that our community depends on us,” she said.

Reporter Stephen Mayer can be reached at 661-395-7353. Follow him on Facebook and Twitter: @semayerTBC.

GET faces unprecedented challenges in age of COVID | News Source link GET faces unprecedented challenges in age of COVID | News

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