As many industries continue to face the challenges caused by a nationwide labor shortage, leaders in public transit have been navigating ways to cope. The labor shortage spans both administrative and front-line employee positions. For many agencies, lower numbers of operators have hindered the ability to provide the amount of service needed daily. This is especially troublesome for transit regions that are seeing a steady increase in ridership such as Metro Transit in the Minneapolis-Saint Paul area, Minnesota. To both retain workers and attract new skilled labor, organizations are launching full-scale initiatives, and even pursuing wage increases. This may not be a comprehensive approach to a strong, sustainable hiring philosophy, but it sure is a start… read on for more on the Twin Cities, Denver, and Savannah.
Metro Transit has carefully tracked and recognized their steady increase in ridership in the last few months. However, they question their ability to provide the amount of service needed, should this trend continue. The agency has been operating significantly below optimal staffing levels, resulting in reduced service frequency and schedule adjustments. The agency’s Research and Analytics Manager, Eric Lind, has been vocal about the concern for providing the service that customers need when faced with today’s labor market patterns. “Metro Transit is currently running multiple promotions to offset attrition and attract driver prospects, including weekly hiring events and minimum hourly increases.”
Facing the same challenges in providing optimal service for customers, Chatham Area Transit (CAT) in Savannah, Georgia and the Regional Transportation District (RTD) in Denver, Colorado are both using the same approach – increased wages. At CAT, a wage increase was confirmed for paratransit operators, allowing the agency to be more competitive in the labor market. Similarly, at RTD, union negotiations are still in progress focused on potentially implementing higher wages. Debra Johnson, RTD’s CEO and General Manager, has stated that higher wages are needed “to compete with other public and private employers for drivers and skilled workers — and to keep employees from leaving.”
As agencies begin to propose solutions to the labor shortage, what will your agency choose to do? You can count on The TransPro Advisor to keep you in the loop.