Many metropolitan cities have public transit systems that employ hundreds of workers, including bus drivers, train operators, mechanics, security officers and management staff. Bus drivers are one of the most crucial jobs in the system, but they can also be among the hardest to fill. In the past, the CTA has struggled with a shortage of employees, and some positions have gone unfilled for months.
This year, the CTA has added incentives to attract new employees, including a $1,000 hiring bonus that will appear on a worker’s first paycheck. The agency is also retraining current employees for new jobs, offering free commercial driving classes and opening job fairs, such as the one that took place today at Olive-Harvey College.
But these efforts may not solve the agency’s staffing crisis. The problem is complicated by COVID-related absences, the high demand for drivers from ride-hail companies and other transportation businesses, and the difficulty of recruiting in a city where many people already drive for Uber or Lyft.
But perhaps the biggest challenge is addressing public perceptions of the agency’s drivers, who often are blamed for the delays and frustrations that riders experience. For example, there are many people who claim that bus drivers frequently accelerate and slam on the brakes while a person is trying to get off. This type of reckless behavior is dangerous and can cause serious injuries to people who are not expecting a sudden stop.