The MTA blames a recent uptick in bus collisions partly on the high number of new bus drivers on the road.

Drivers retired in droves in the first year of the pandemic, when the MTA had a hiring freeze in place. Service declined due to a shortage of workers. The agency lifted the freeze last year and officials said they hoped to hire a total of 1,300 new drivers by January.

MTA board member David Jones said Monday during a committee meeting that training could not fully capture the experience of driving a bus on city streets.

“You can go through as many courses as you want, when you get into the real world, it becomes more difficult,” Jones said.

Data shared during the committee meeting showed “bus collisions per million miles” creeping up above rates set in 2019.

An MTA graph showing an increase since 2019 in “bus collisions per million miles.”

MTA data showing an increase in bus crashes since 2019.

MTA data showing an increase in bus crashes since 2019.

“We’ve also onboarded an unprecedented amount of bus operators over the past two years, specifically this year, and they’re having more than their fair share of incidents,” said Frank Annicaro, the MTA’s vice president for buses.

Transit Workers Union Vice President Donald Yates said he disagreed with the MTA, instead blaming the return of traffic to pre-pandemic levels for the increase in bus crashes

“I don’t think the uptick is the result of bus operator inexperience, or a lack of training. Operating a 40-foot or 60-foot bus in NYC has become even more difficult. The streets are more crowded. We’re sharing the space with more bicyclists, e-bike riders, scooters, as well as Uber and Lyft drivers, than ever before,” Yates said.

The time it takes for buses to arrive and bus travel time have also been creeping up in the past year, recent MTA data shows. A recent MTA customer survey conducted found about half of bus riders contacted were not satisfied with the time it took for a bus to arrive.

The agency runs 5,800 buses on 329 routes. The MTA hopes to hire 1,300 bus operators by the end of the year.