Seattle’s King County Metro is launching a one-week recruiting effort for transit operators, marking the first time in decades that Metro has opened the door to any aspiring operator to apply for full-time work holding a current Class A or B Commercial Driver License without first starting with the agency as a part-time operator.
The agency’s posting is open from May 16 and 24, and allows full-time bus drivers from other areas of the country or professional drivers with Commercial Driver Licenses to apply for full-time work. Job candidates will need to have a passenger endorsement on their CDL and the air brake restriction removed. Training will be customized for external trainees, allowing the necessary time to familiarize them with the large variety of equipment in use at Metro and the multitude of Metro’s service routes.
Since the 1970s, labor agreements required new transit operators start as part-time drivers and then seek promotion to full-time work. An agreement reached in 2017 with Amalgamated Transit Union Local 587 allows a change in this approach and allows Metro also to meet target ratios of full-time and part-time operators.
Metro estimates that it needs to hire about 650 full-time operators over the next two years to continue to operate and increase service, as well as to address retirements. This recruitment is intended to identify 35 initial external candidates between now and later this fall; internal applicants also are accepted. Metro expects that hiring full-time operators will help consistently provide daily bus service as it expands and puts more service on the road now and in the future.
Currently Metro employs more than 3,000 operators, with about 1,000 part-time and 2,000 full-time drivers. A change in the recent contract called for a higher percentage of full-time drivers, something that allows the agency to continue to grow as an all-day service provider.