Metro Transit announces plan to combat bus driver shortage in the Twin Cities

The apprenticeship program will pay workers normal wages while they train.
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A potential solution to Metro Transit's bus driver shortage in the Twin Cities is in the works. 

Metro Transit announced Tuesday that it will train employees through the Minnesota Apprenticeship initiative and has a goal of hiring up to 200 employees in the coming years. 

The initiative allows apprentices to earn a wage while being trained for the job, which Metro Transit hopes translates to interest in driving bus in the metro. Currently, they are about 90 drivers short, which forced the removal of 67 bus routes in the metro area earlier this summer. 

The wage for bus drivers at Metro Transit starts at $19.94 an hour, which is what apprentices in this new program will be allowed to earn while training for the job. 

"Apprentices are paid while they have an opportunity to work closely with veteran drivers in one-on-one session, group classes and ride-alongs,” said Metro Transit General Manager Brian Lamb said in a release.

“When they’re behind the wheel, they will have support and guidance from the best. It’s a great opportunity to get into a skilled trade, where there is an immediate demand for workers.”

The Metro Transit apprenticeship is also looking for interested mechanics.

The difficulty in finding new bus drivers comes in a year when several high profile assaults of Metro Transit drivers have been shared on social media.

Ryan Timlin, president of the Amalgamated Transit Union Local 1005, told the Star Tribune that this could be putting off potential applicants.

The main cause of the driver shortage though is thought to be the current strong economy and low unemployment levels, the newspaper notes.

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