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DETROIT April 14, 2015– The City of Detroit’s Department of Transportation announced that it will be hiring 100 new drivers in the coming weeks.
The city also announced a higher pay rate for new hires, but the president of Amalgamated Transit Union Local 26 says the city is still woefully behind the suburbs when it comes to bus driver pay.
The new starting hourly rate for DDOT drivers is $11.38, up from $9.38.
From the Detroit News:
Fred Westbrook Jr., president of the ATU Local 26, said the rise in pay may attract some applicants, but the rate will have to increase even more to keep them. The union is seeking higher pay for bus drivers — which tops out at $16.25 — to match pay in suburban transit operations, such as $19 to start for SMART bus drivers and $23 for bus drivers in Ann Arbor.
The city is hiring new drivers to relieve increased demand for public transit, and take some of the burden off of the drivers currently on-staff. The Detroit bus system has a reputation for late service and crime, due to budget cuts and short staffing, according to ATU Local 26 officials.
“Overall we need it because my members are stressed out,” Westbrook told the News. “They’re doing the work of two, three people. They can’t get all the buses out on the main roads. … Drivers are doing the work of two buses. They have to pass up people. That creates verbal assaults. People are packed in and they’re stressed out.”
Like any other workplace situation, good pay and safety on the job will be required for the City of Detroit to keep drivers on-staff. The city announcing 100 new driver openings may attract applicants, but if other bus systems in the Detroit area can offer higher wages and a less-dangerous work environment, retention will be a problem for Detroit.