Republic Services apologizes to Baton Rouge for trash woes, vows to do better

    Amid escalating complaints over its trash collection service, officials with Republic Service apologized to Baton Rouge residents today while saying the company is adding trucks, drivers and training to boost performance.

    The company, which has a $26 million-a-year contract with the city-parish, laid out its service improvement plan, requested by Mayor Sharon Weston Broome, at a City Hall press conference this morning. Along with the six-to-nine-week driver training program, spokeswoman Karla Swacker says the company has also ramped up its hiring.

    Three drivers began running routes last week and three additional drivers will begin Friday. The company has also hired two additional supervisors and plans for two more drivers to join the team in early July.

    Last month, Republic Services General Manager Sharon Mann blamed declining service on a national shortage of garbage truck drivers and a spike in local driver resignations. Also, Swacker said today the seasonal wear-and-tear on trucks previously scheduled to be replaced along with the springtime surge of trash to be collected escalated the company’s service hiccups.

    “We plan for contingencies, but we ran short at that time,” Swacker says. “We expect to be back in the good graces (of the city).”

    Kelvin Hill, assistant chief administrative officer, worked with Republic Services on establishing metrics to judge its services and city-parish staff will review those indicators weekly with the company.

    Republic will analyze 311 data to address and monitor problem areas and repeat service misses, and drivers have begun turning in maps every day to sign-off on their routes. Republic, Swacker says, has already started evaluating what areas might be affected by re-routing.

    Republic also hired DRC Emergency Services as a subcontractor to help supplement its collection of storm debris and “woody waste.”

    Broome believes it’s a good plan and expects to see service improvement soon, though says her administration will evaluate if the plan is effective in a month.  

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