South Portland is suspending bus service for more than a week because of a driver shortage, the city announced Friday.

Service was scheduled to halt at the end of the day Friday and resume on May 19. A news release from the city said the shortage is due to “various reasons.”

“While the city cannot comment on whether COVID-19 played a role in the decision to temporarily cease operations, we have no reason to believe there is any health threat to the public,” the city said.

Both Arthur Handman, the city’s transportation director; and Scott Morelli, city manager, declined to elaborate on the reasons for the driver shortages, other than to say it is unrelated to discipline.

Asked if a driver had tested positive for or been suspected of having COVID-19, the illness caused by the coronavirus, Handman said he could not answer.

Morelli, in an email, said the city is not sharing information about the status of any employee’s health, even without directly identifying them.

“So we will not be providing info on whether a bus employee has or has not been tested or how they tested for COVID-19,” Morelli said. “What’s important to reiterate is that we do not believe any health threat exists to the public, including our riders.”

The temporary suspension of the bus service comes a few days after the city announced Handman’s retirement, effective May 15.

“That was planned way ahead of time,” he said. Morelli also said there is no correlation between Handman’s retirement and the suspension of the bus service.

The bus service has been running on a limited schedule since April 5 due to the coronavirus pandemic and since May 1 all riders have been required to wear masks.

Drivers also are wearing masks and the city is limiting the number of riders on a bus at any given time, Morelli said. There have been additional cleaning protocols in place for all city offices and buses since the outbreak.

An exact number of bus staff was not immediately available Friday night.

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