RIPTA Raises Driver Starting Wage to $25.33 Per Hour

Board Approves Agreement with Driver Union

 

Providence, Rhode Island, February 22, 2024… The Rhode Island Public Transit Authority (RIPTA) Board of Directors voted today to approve a collective bargaining agreement with the Amalgamated Transit Union (ATU) Division 618 that would increase the starting driver wage from $21.71 per hour to $25.33 per hour. The new wage goes into effect this week. In addition, the top pay step of existing ATU salaries, other than Van Operators, will increase by $1.00, with lower pay steps adjusted accordingly. ATU 618 represents RIPTA’s 488 current fixed-route and paratransit drivers.

The current collective bargaining agreement does not expire until June 30, 2025, but RIPTA reopened the contract early in direct response to the ongoing nationwide shortage of licensed commercial drivers. Despite extensive recruitment efforts, drivers continue to retire more quickly than RIPTA can recruit new ones.

"This crucial wage increase benefits not only our drivers, but our passengers as well," said Scott Avedisian, RIPTA’s Chief Executive Officer. "This will enable us to attract and retain drivers, ensuring that the public can rely on RIPTA to be there when the bus schedule says we are going to be there."

Last month, the Authority announced proposed statewide service reductions, which are a direct response to the driver shortage. The labor shortage, which is affecting transit agencies across the country, has a direct impact on the level of service that RIPTA can provide. RIPTA is proposing to recalibrate its schedules with the level of service it can consistently run, so that service is accurate and reliable for passengers. The agency plans to reinstate service levels as soon as the workforce permits.

Avedisian added that RIPTA’s goal-oriented Transit Master Plan calls for service expansion "but we cannot continue to expand service if we do not have the necessary workforce."

As part of the initiative to recruit new drivers, RIPTA is hosting a job fair on Friday, March 15, 2024, from 10am to 3pm at RIPTA headquarters located at 705 Elmwood Avenue, Providence. Interested applicants are encouraged to stop by or apply online at RIPTA.com/careers. All new bus operators receive up to 8 weeks of paid training, including commercial driver license (CDL) education and certification. RIPTA offers: • Competitive salaries, a full package of benefits, life insurance policies, and pension plans. • Paid vacations, PTO, sick leave and wellness programs. • Room for advancement and long-term growth from within.

For more information on schedules or other RIPTA services, please call 401-781-9400 or visit ripta.com.

 

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