CapMetro looking to raise starting wages for operators, mechanics

Capital Metro says that bus operators and mechanics may soon be earning more per hour.

Members of the Amalgamated Transit Union (ATU) will consider an agreement next week that would significantly increase the hourly wage for bus operators and mechanics, says the transit agency.

Since August, CapMetro says it has been actively recruiting to hire more than 100 bus operators and mechanics. The lack of drivers has had a big impact on those who ride the buses as CapMetro has had to make some big changes to routes.

"When we don’t have the folks available on any given day then that means not all the scheduled buses are operating. Many of our regular riders have unfortunately grown accustomed to checking our trip planner or mobile app and seeing their trip with a red line through it, that’s simply a trip we had to cancel because we did not have the resources to put it out on the street," said CapMetro Deputy CEO Dottie Watkins.

ATU Local 1091, which represents CapMetro bus operators and mechanics, has now reached a tentative labor agreement with CapMetro’s service contractor, MV Transportation, that would increase wages for these staff members.

"Our staff has been on the frontlines of the pandemic for the last two years, so this is not only a great way to support our workforce but also to ensure that we are providing equitable, competitive wages and benefits to such dedicated public servants," said Watkins. "I was once a bus operator myself, so I know how important it is to take care of those who make it possible for us to serve customers."  

Bus operators are expected to start at a wage of $22 per hour and mechanics would earn at least $31 per hour. Based on annual salary assumptions, bus operators could earn between $54,000-$76,000 per year, and mechanics could earn between $71,000-$84,000 as they continue their careers at CapMetro, says the transit agency.

These new wages represent an increase of up to 30% for operators and up to 13% for mechanics compared to their current wage. All new staff would be offered full benefits, including medical, dental, vision, a 401(k)-retirement plan, and more.  

The tentative agreement calls for cash incentives to both operators and mechanics based on performance goals, with an emphasis on safety and attendance. The wage structure also rewards and incentivizes retention through increasing the staff’s hourly rate the longer they serve, says CapMetro. 

Members of the ATU are expected to vote on approval of the labor agreement next week. The new labor agreement would go into effect on Jan. 1, 2022.

Candidates with or without a Commercial Driver’s License are encouraged to apply. Paid training is offered to assist those who need to obtain a commercial license. 

There are a few things to keep in mind if you’re looking to apply to be a bus operator. "We’re looking for folks that have a relatively clean driving record, a relatively clean criminal history with no violent offenses and people who really love to work with people. That’s the crux of the job, it’s about serving the community and working with people," said Watkins.

Those looking to apply can click here. There is a $3,500 hiring bonus for some qualified candidates.  

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