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Under fire, Metro apologizes for delays in trash pickup

The company says the main reason for the delays is a lack of certified drivers.

NEW ORLEANS — Metro Service Group, the beleaguered trash collectors for much of Orleans Parish’s east bank issued an apology to its customers and an explanation to what it says has been “delays in collecting household waste.”

A post to its website, dated September 20, stated: 

“If you’re a homeowner, you pay your monthly sanitation fee in the expectation that you’ll receive timely service. Nothing disappoints me and the Metro team more than being behind on our routes.”

The apology comes as Metro remains under fire for its tardiness in trash collection – an issue that first surfaced in the months leading up to Hurricane Ida and that was only exacerbated by the strong storm.

Mayor LaToya Cantrell publicly said two weeks ago that she is not satisfied with the service that is being provided and that she probably will rebid the city’s contract with the provider.

Metro was already having issues with collection prior to Hurricane Ida with customers complaining and delays of days, and in some cases, weeks for trash collection.

After Hurricane Ida, and with trash rotting away in front of customers’ homes, Metro’s previously described “hiccup,” became a full-fledged health issue that caused the city to start picking up the trash itself and hiring out four additional companies at a hefty price tag estimated to be about $20 million.

In July, when Metro was taking heat for being behind in pickups, Jimmie Woods said he was short about 10-12 drivers, something he attributes to several factors.

In his apology, Woods said that the problems are mostly due to that same issue because drivers have to meet certain standards that aren’t required of “hoppers” or the people who are on the back of the trucks, hopping off and on and tossing trash into the trucks.

Woods said the standards, along with some COVID outbreaks, displacement of some drivers by Hurricane Ida and competition for drivers from other industries. He also cited the volume of trash in place after Ida.

Previously, Mayor Cantrell had cited that Metro is facing three times the normal trash load with about one-fourth the needed number of drivers.

Woods said his company is implementing several steps to try to address the issue. He said he has increased the starting rate for truck drivers to $17 per hour, stepped up recruiting, subcontracted with other companies (IV Waste has helped with Metro collections both before and after Hurricane Ida) and implemented a hiring bonus program.

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