The Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) welcomed 80 new full-time bus operators to the agency, the latest step in the CTA’s efforts to address workforce challenges and improve service throughout the system.
"The CTA system is an essential part of our residents' everyday lives, connecting them to everything our city has to offer," said Chicago Mayor Lori E. Lightfoot. "I congratulate and thank the 80 new bus drivers who will build on our commitment to provide reliable, efficient transit services to our residents."
The new operators, who either recently started or will enter service this week, have completed extensive and comprehensive training in all facets of operations, safety, troubleshooting, customer communications, and more.
“Today marks a positive step forward as part of our commitment to further improve the reliability of our vital bus services to our customers,” said CTA President, Dorval R. Carter, Jr., during a graduation ceremony for the new operators. “The addition of these 80 new bus operators, is not only a welcome addition to the CTA family, but also a proud moment for us as an agency, as they are the next generation of bus drivers dedicated to helping keep our city moving forward.”
Like all businesses, especially those in the public transit industry, the CTA has faced unprecedented challenges in recruiting bus operators during the global pandemic. Operator shortages can occasionally lead to service challenges — which can lead to longer wait times for a bus or train.
Throughout the pandemic, CTA has continued to hire and train bus operators. Following a series of multi-faceted recruitment marketing campaigns, the CTA will continue to attract prospective new employees with competitive pay, excellent benefits, and locally based career growth opportunities in the transportation industry. The CTA also collaborated with its unions to make first-of-their-kind adjustments to existing work rules, to help make CTA a more competitive employer in a high-demand industry.
Previously, bus operators would begin their careers at the CTA in part-time positions and work their way up to full-time positions, which often took years. However, for the first time ever, this year’s new hires start immediately in full-time bus operator positions, a change CTA sought in the most recent contract with the bus driver’s union. CTA continues to offer a paid seven-week training period, which includes CDL training and licensing.