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MBTA to cut bus service because it can't find enough people to drive them

WBUR reports roughly 5% of bus trips will be eliminated later this month due to a lack of drivers.

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No service is zero-fare service.

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It's unfare

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I might apply for this!

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For all of you bemoaning the reality of public transit and think it:

1. Needs improvement.
2. Needs better people.
3. Needs to make things run on time.

Here's your chance. Get on it.

https://www.mbta.com/careers

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but they are only hiring part time drivers. What is that about?

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New hires are on split shifts for at least a year, if not longer.

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https://www.governmentjobs.com/careers/mbta/jobs/3321647/part-time-bus-o...

It appears that the bus operator openings require you to already have a class B CDL. Some transit agencies will pay you for training from no commercial driving experience...

Most of the jobs posted are either administrative or technical roles, many at the director level too.

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Most of the jobs posted are either administrative or technical roles, many at the director level too.

I participated at a few virtual job fairs and people who were representing the T would tell us they're looking for people all the time (besides bus drivers and train operators), they made it seem it would be jobs that required little to no training or entry-level positions. I wish the rep made it clear what jobs were open or will be opening.

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And it only pays 21 hourly . That’s low pay to need a cdl

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What do you think about the current pay/work conditions for bus drivers and does it compare favorably/unfavorably to your dad's career?

From what I understand starting pay is sub $20/hr, split shifts starting at like 4am, and no set schedule. Rumor also has it that wages have been stagnant for at least a decade.

(asking in earnest.)

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You might be asking in earnest, but don't expect to be answered in kind.

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That is the posted rate for closers near me for, let's face it, teenage (I did it) skilled work.

So for just under $5/hr more you are supposed to drive 43 people from Nubian to Central?

My dad's generation were pushed out in the early 90's when the pension reality of the 70's set in. The T had lifted a lot of people, especially African Americans fleeing the south in the 60's, and someone who was 1 of 11 kids in a two bedroom house, up into the lower middle class. A lot of people in their early 50's were shown the door.

People on the T in the 70's, if they kept out of drinking / gambling / dumbness could afford a house in Norwood, Randolph, Dorchester, Mattapan, JP, Quincy, and Needham (Needham!). A T employee with seniority in 1990 was making about the equivalent of $75,000 to $80,000 today. $20/Hr now full time is $41,200 per year. That's with people like my dad working 5:00 AM to 9:45 and then 11:45 to 2:15. That means Amazon delivery is a better option. You only have to deal with the occasional dog, not a urine soaked junkie sitting and screaming two seats from you.

The early 90's purge resulted in lower starting pay and a broken Carmen's Union. Working at the T was made into a job where you could interchange people clerking at a department store or being an assistant at a nursing home.

The introduction of Customer Service Reps has all the ethos of people handing out free samples of a new gum at Quincy Market.

About 10 years ago I was doing some research at the State Transportation Library. At 10:30 in the morning I counted 7 people (from upstairs) asleep at the reading desks.

There are some great dedicated people on the T on the ground. Management is bloated and doesn't see the tracks. Operations do what they can with what they've got.

It is not the same.

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.

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I'm unemployed and desperate, and I won't apply. why?

I was apart of the last 'lottery' in 2012 and started the process to become a 'motorperson driver' for 22.50/hr (its the same pay rate today).

Here's what it entails

1. You work splits, and your shift will start at a fun place like Riverside at 4am. I don't own a car so getting TO Riverside would be impossible.
2. Since you work splits, you have several hours in the middle of the day between shifts to fill up. But its not enough time to work another job to supplement the lower pay and part time hours. Also, enjoy having Tuesdays and Wednesdays off, since you'll be working all weekend.
3. They drug test (DOT requirement), I won't pass.
4. You do not get to join their union for 2 years, which means no healthcare or benefits for 2 years.
5. Your route assignments may not be the same every day and may be used as infill. So one day you may head to Riverside, next to Fellsway Garage.
6. You have to go thru hours and hours of training.. its also unpaid I believe. Much of this training has to do with the T being sued so many times that they fear lawsuits so you get to sit thru weeks of this training. (i've seen the training materials.. its sad it has to be broken down at this level)

That's just to get the job. You're on a 2 year probationary period before you move to full time. During that time, you may be let go for the littlest infraction. Many new drivers never make it to the 2 year mark because its a tough job

Which leads me to the final point... its a tough job. Seems easy but its not. You have to:

1. Deal with customers who are nasty
2. Might get attacked or have bleach thrown at you
3. Might get yelled at by customers
4. Might get yelled at by supervisors for being slow when it wasn't your fault
5. If someone gets hurt, even if it isnt your fault, and they complain, you will pay for this, regardless**. You might get written up, be suspended, or worse, lose your job because some old lady slipped getting onto the bus and now complained.
6. If you hit something (car, person, light pole) with your bus, the paperwork & administrative nightmare you will deal with is... crazy (from what I hear)

** I personally have been involved with T vs driver disputes because I knew the driver was not at fault and stuck up for them.. drivers are EXTREMELY thankful to customers who do.

And remember, to do this all for 22.50/hr, part time hours, and no benefits.

I'd rather go work at Target at this point for 17.50/hr . Half the drama, healthcare from day 1, and you get an employee discount.

I am sure some T drivers will comment and correct me, and I welcome this. My information is based on drivers I know & what I experienced in 2012, so your mileage may vary with this information.

PS - We were warned by Dr Scott 7 years ago that this would happen. She kept telling that control board that many drivers were going to retire by the end of the decade and hiring needed to be bumped up to accommodate that. But "T is bad" mantra put a fork in that, so here we are.

Edit: I bolded the part people seem to glaze over. My information is based on 12 year old information, I am NOT sure how valid it is today.

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Every person in an at-will job (virtually all jobs) are perpetually "on probation." In academia there is tenure. Not beyond that point. Or do you mean that a union's protection does not kick in for 2 years. That is an interesting point if true.

The Silver line - albeit technically part of the subway system - a funny line. Drivers still at South Station for 10 or more minutes holding up 3 other buses. Or demand riders who are frustrated to get off the bus. Happened to me on the Silver line. Frustrated because I dared express under my breath frustration with waiting for a Sliver Line bus during rush hour for 3 times what should be a normal wait.

Hours and hours of training unpaid? Okay, if that is true give the evidence. Otherwise you're just sounding like Trump.

Drivers work weekends? Oh my goodness. What a horror!

Somehow - I don't know how - there is a shortage of labor in many industries and occupations. First figure out why so many j jobs across the board are going unfilled.

Is driving a bus easy? Well, there have been bus drivers ever since GM worked to destroy the streetcar system.

There are things I am glad of. One is that bus drivers have the plastic barriers. Frankly if the front door was closed I think it would be better for drivers in general. Why subject them to the same hassles that riders deal with as far as other riders are concerned?

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Somehow - I don't know how - there is a shortage of labor in many industries and occupations. First figure out why so many j jobs across the board are going unfilled.

Well, Daan, to start with, almost a million people have died of COVID. That puts a dent in things.

You also have people who got covid but survived and are now disabled, people who never got it but their grandmother who watched their kids did and now don't have childcare (childcare literally costs more than most people take home each month, if you're in a "job" and not a "career" it makes more sense for that person to quit).

Then you have plenty of older folks in public facing jobs looked at the situation and said 'fuck this' and retired. The impending retirement of Baby Boomers was sort of a big deal in the press for a while, about the labor shortages it was going to cause and whether those toast eating millenials and the 12 gen-xers in existence were going to step up, but then the Boomers DIDN'T really retire and the subject went away. Well, the bill is due and they're doing it now.

Also, and this isn't a politically palatable one, because nobody really wants to acknowledge how much of our basic functionality is built on immigrants, but, we just had four years of a psychotic racist who let ICE and Border Control run around like unchecked cowboys on coke. Why risk getting detained and catching COVID or getting shot in the desert for 4$ an hour washing dishes in some restaurant.

It's not some big goddamn mystery why there's a shortage. Millennials have been underemployed from day 1 and Gen Z are just hitting working age, so you would think if these orgs are so desperate for bodies they'll up the pay and offer training / no experience required / free childcare / etc, but that will cut into corporate profits OR in this case the state won't pay for it, sooo, fuck it.

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Every person in an at-will job (virtually all jobs) are perpetually "on probation." In academia there is tenure. Not beyond that point. Or do you mean that a union's protection does not kick in for 2 years. That is an interesting point if true.

The Silver line - albeit technically part of the subway system - a funny line. Drivers still at South Station for 10 or more minutes holding up 3 other buses. Or demand riders who are frustrated to get off the bus. Happened to me on the Silver line. Frustrated because I dared express under my breath frustration with waiting for a Sliver Line bus during rush hour for 3 times what should be a normal wait.

Hours and hours of training unpaid? Okay, if that is true give the evidence. Otherwise you're just sounding like Trump.

Drivers work weekends? Oh my goodness. What a horror!

Somehow - I don't know how - there is a shortage of labor in many industries and occupations. First figure out why so many j jobs across the board are going unfilled.

Is driving a bus easy? Well, there have been bus drivers ever since GM worked to destroy the streetcar system.

There are things I am glad of. One is that bus drivers have the plastic barriers. Frankly if the front door was closed I think it would be better for drivers in general. Why subject them to the same hassles that riders deal with as far as other riders are concerned?

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https://www.mbta.com/careers/get-started-mbta-operator

"Trainees are paid $15.86/hour, 40 hours/week for eight weeks of training. After training, new hires start at $21.13/hour, 30 hours/week, with the potential to advance to 40 hours/week."

$15.86 is technically better than MA minimum wage ($14.25). But not by much.

https://www.mbta.com/careers/employee-insurance

Health insurance is through the GIC (same as most other state employees), kicks in within 60-90 days, which isn't day 1, but isn't two years, either.

Getting shitty shifts - definitely. But it might not be the 4am ones. Drivers with seniority seem to prioritize being done with their workday ASAP, so there's a lot of demand for shifts that starts at 4am and is done by noon. Covering the peak commuting hours (so 6-10am and 2-6pm or something like that) is a more likely part-timer piece of work, and the dead, unpaid time in the middle is a drag.

The drug tests are a real issue. These days one of the classes of jobs competing for people willing to be drivers is delivery services (for Amazon and similar) which don't (or at least aren't required to) drug test people. It's doubly silly in a state where cannabis has been legalized.

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3. They drug test (DOT requirement), I won't pass.

If it's because you use illicit drugs, well that's a choice. If it's because you're on prescribed meds, note that there's a reason the DOT has that requirement. They don't want a transit driver to have an adverse reaction or go off their meds while driving, and you shouldn't either.

You're not qualified for that very good reason. Sorry, but look elsewhere.

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Many companies are required to follow federal drug laws, which mean cannabis is an illegal drug, despite it being legal in Massachusetts. Folks with medical cards are generally winning ADA lawsuits around this, but that doesn't help when it takes years to settle.

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...you use cannabis? Doesn't mean you're high as a kite, means it's detected in your system because you use a legal (in this state) drug, perhaps for medical reasons, not to get high. Legal in MA, not legal to the feds, and DOT is fed. Alcohol is legal and leads to impaired judgment, but it's not "illicit", so I guess you're cool with alcohol use but against someone using low-dose cannabis as a sleep aid?

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You couldn't PAY ME to do this job. Not that I would even attempt to.

I know too many bus drivers and the drama they deal with every day. Its not worth it for what they get paid.

Further, I am also HIV+ and have been for 25 years. I suffer from a number of ailments because of that. I use MMJ to help with that. MMJ has been a lifesaver for me. So please, go fuck yourself and your nancy reagan just say no nonsense.

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If I missed the point, maybe it's because you didn't just say you wouldn't want the job in the first place, instead of posting a WOW about how you couldn't get it.

I'm glad that you found something to help you with the HIV, but nothing in your reply actually rebuts what I said in my comment, least of all Nancy Reagan and go fuck yourself.

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The Division One Superintendent {The Pirate Queen} and I are hiring horsecar drivers and conductors! Smokers welcome; just don't set the straw on the floor on fire! Are you at least strong enough to bear the reins o'er dasher in four-horse time during rush hour? Starting rate is $31.79/hour {payable only in gold and silver coin} with Sundays and your birthday off. Breakfast and supper breaks included. Hope you are not allergic to horse dander...

Apply at your earliest convenience!

DIVISION ONE {Her Carhouses & Stables}

- Lotus Place, Jamaica Plain
- Mount Bellevue, Roslindale
- Grove Hall Station
- Hendry's Stable, Dorchester
- Ashmont Street, Dorchester
- Park Street, Dorchester

DIVISION TWO {My Carhouses & Stables}

- Lenox Street, South End
- Roxbury Xing, Roxbury
- Arborway Lobby, Jamaica Plain
- Amory Street, Jamaica Plain

***See the world today... not in a Chevrolet... but upon the anachronistic M.T.A.!!!***

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Here's your chance. Get on it.

Call me a Negative Nellie, but I have my doubts as to how much power the part-time drivers at the MBTA have to enact institutional change.

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They can't find enough people to drive them without raising wages, is what they mean.

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I very much enjoy the MBTA, and thought about being a driver or motorperson for a few years.

But what's the appeal of starting with a forced part time schedule? And split shifts at that? They've held onto this format for as long as I can remember, as if it's some important, yet archaic right-of-passage into "full time worthiness".

Folks have lives to live & families to support. Part time split shifts make both, a bit difficult to conceptualize.

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And also, if you already have a CDL you can make big bucks as a truck driver without all MBTA requirements.

I'm guessing that's why lots of drivers are heading elsewhere, particularly those who are on the newer side.

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Demand is peaky, because of commuting, so service is peaky. Split shifts seem kind of inevitable given that. (I know some quarters argue for non-peaky service, and having consistent service levels all day. That might avoid split shifts but would cost a lot more driver hours/money, doesn't seem likely any time soon.)

(I have no idea what's up with starting out as part-time, though. That part I agree is strange and seems counterproductive.)

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You gotta spend money to make money. If no bus comes, no one can take the bus that does not come. How long do they wait before they go by other means? You can save money on drivers but if you do it at the expense of passengers (as has been done) that is penny-wise and pound foolish.

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Especially in a union environment where workers are more-or-less fungible. So the senior drivers get to choose the better shifts -- you know, the ones with weekends off and contiguous 8-hour shifts. Probably not the ones that end at 1:30 AM unless they're trying to juggle child care with a spouse/partner. The new guys and gals get the crappy shifts no one wants.

It's probably part-time so they're not stuck with paying overtime if they want to offer another shift, since that'd still be under 40 hours/week. I think that's kinda dumb since benefits for additional employees likely outweigh the incremental cost of OT pay but OT budgets get scrutinized mercilessly due to past abuses.

Entry-level jobs at most places which don't require a college degree (and even at many that do) suck.

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I just love how all these companies including the t can't find help well maybe you should start paying people properly and treating people properly. I have heard of people getting shifts like 11 to 2 a.m. and then have to be back at 4 a.m. who wants to do that for twenty bucks an hour period. The team was a well sought after job back in the day you couldn't even get on the train pot just to bust pot but that's because the pay was the same then as it is now

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More like cut service already

The last couple times this past week I tried to take the 34 out of the Dedham Mall just after 10, scheduled buses didn't come.

Once the gps app said that there wasn't a 34 for an hour. So at least 3 buses were missing. Last night it was the 10:05 that didn't show up. Fortunately, the 10:20 came.

MBTA - please update your schedules ASAP! Standing at a cold, open bus stop in the cold and wet is brutal!

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