RFTA working to fill 50-60 bus driver jobs
The Roaring Fork Transportation Authority is “making good progress” in filling 50 to 60 bus driver positions, according to CEO Dan Blankenship. The need is a moving target because of attrition and some applicants dropping out. What will matter most is where the numbers are when Thanksgiving arrives and bus service increases, he said.
“We started our process earlier this year because we had so many positions to fill,” Blankenship said.
RFTA had between 120 and 125 driver positions during the summer. It aims to boost that number to 160 for winter service. This year was the first full year of expanded bus service for RFTA, so adjustments have been necessary. The agency paid slightly more than $51,000 in bonuses during the summer to entice drivers to cover unfilled shifts. It paid drivers $100 or $50 to add shifts, depending on how long the additional hours were. In addition, it paid overtime. The program worked to cover 606 shifts, he said.
Blankenship said last summer no drivers would exceed the federal limit of 70 hours worked in any eight-day period.
More drivers are being hired to try to avoid the bonus program for extra shifts this winter. Starting pay for drivers was increased from $17.22 to $18 starting Oct. 5. Veteran drivers received pay hikes of between 50 and 78 cents per hour to avoid compressing the pay scale. In addition, there are end-of-season bonuses offered.
“We’re pretty optimistic at this time,” Blankenship said of filling openings. “I think the increase in pay helps.”
Construction firms also are finding it harder to fill all positions. Rick Stevens, president of Aspen Earthmoving and a Basalt Town councilman, said on Oct. 28 that it’s already tougher finding workers in the Roaring Fork Valley now that activity is picking up in the lower Colorado River corridor. Some construction workers are choosing to work closer to their homes.
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