Massive expansion of bus service will mean 'substantial' Transit Windsor job openings
Tuesday, January 21, 2020
The Windsor Star/Brian Cross
Bus drivers paid roughly $30 an hour will be in big demand in the coming years as Transit Windsor doubles its service.
Employment projections in the eight-year More Than Transit overhaul passed by council Monday show the number of drivers increasing from 166 to 250, a 51 per cent rise, and the total workforce expanding from 244 to 370, a 52 per cent rise.
“Drivers, administrative staff, maintenance staff, it’s right across the board,” Transit Windsor executive director Pat Delmore said Tuesday of the “substantial” increase in staffing required as the service expands its hours, increases frequency and increase its routes from 13 to 23. The total hours of service will go from 267,100 annually currently to 554,150 in 2028. But Delmore said there won’t be an immediate hiring binge.
“It is gradual, it happens over a number of years,” with 2023 and 2024 being the peak times for hiring and service expansion.
According to projections from now to 2028, support staffing (dispatchers, schedulers, supervisors) will increase from 13 to 22, mechanics will increase from 19 to 29, and administration will rise from 21 to 27. The extra hiring doesn’t include hiring normally done to replace people who are retiring. Last year, about 20 people retired at Transit Windsor.
Delmore expects hiring an extra three or four additional drivers will happen this year, if council approves at budget time a proposal that’s part of the More Than Transit recommendations: improving Sunday service by extending hours and increasing bus frequency.
Under the transit review, total annual hours of service will rise from 267,100 in 2019, to 273,450 this year, 277,700 in 2021, 294,330 in 2022, 330,550 in 2023, 378,450 in 2024, 421,900 in 2025, and will reach 554,150 by 2028. Total buses will go from 114 currently to 165.
The plan envisions converting from the current radial route system — where most buses travel from downtown to points throughout the city — to a grid system. There would be a number of primary and secondary bus routes running with high frequency north/south and east/west on main arterial roads. In addition, there would be neighbourhood routes running within areas like east Riverside and west Forest Glade, collecting and depositing riders at bus stops on main arterials where they transfer to the primary buses.
Attempts to reach officials from the Transit Windsor union, Amalgamated Transit Union Local 616, to ask about the impact the transit overhaul will have on their members, were unsuccessful Tuesday.
To get hired as a driver you need a G licence, a good driving record and high school graduation. He said there usually no shortage of applicants.
“People in our area recognize that it’s a good job with good benefits and if you’re the right personality, it’s a great career.”
Transit Windsor tests prospective hires to see if they’d be good at the job. The philosophy is: “Give me a good customer-friendly person and we can teach you how to drive a bus,” according to Delmore, who started as a driver 33 years ago.
He said Transit Windsor looks for someone with a great personality who can de-escalate problems and adapt to different situations, from awful weather conditions and bad traffic, to a sunny day.
Drivers undergo four weeks of driver training. Transit Windsor has its own qualified instructors who can take someone off the street with a G licence and at the end of four weeks administer the test and award those who pass with a B Class licence with a Z (air brake) endorsement.
Delmore expects recruitment will start in the coming months. He said the jobs will be posted on the city’s employment opportunities page.