Feb 16, 2009

Shortage of driver's in a recession?

When it comes to finding good people to drive buses, let’s recognize this is not an easy job. Some riders may scoff, but the requirements for operating TTC vehicles are actually quite rigorous. Successful candidates must transport us safely on roads that are often congested (and lately, full of potholes).
News reporter Ed Drass has an article at Metronews.ca regarding the shortage of drivers at the TTC. The transit company can't seem to keep up with demand for transit operators. The union that represents a majority of TTC employees (Local 113 of the Amalgamated Transit Union) has an all time high membership of about 9,400.

So why would the TTC have a hiring problem with a recession going on? Is because the hiring standards are to high? How many people do they turn down that really want the job? Is it because some new employees can't take the nitpicking discipline that the TTC dishes out?

The labour shortage is also occurring with school bus companies as they struggle to fill runs. DRT also has it's problems. There have been a number times when supervisors have been sent out to drive buses. It's nothing new. This has been going on for years. It's not due to a shortage of applications being filled out buy people that want to work for Durham Region Transit. I think it has more to do with the strangle hold that the Ivory Tower has on transit.

The shortage of drivers is just not limited to the GTA. If you look to Greater Vancouver region in British Columbia a hiring spree is going on there. The Coast Mountain Bus Company (CMBC) already has  5,200 employees and 3,350 of them are bus drivers.  CMBC is seeking 500 new drivers to cope with rising demand for public transit in Vancouver. 

The opening quote at the top of this post is true. Not everyone one is cutout to be a transit driver. I know that I was never happy working inside a factory or an office. I always liked driving a bus and working with the public. It was the perfect job for me.  If you are interested in getting into the transit industry I highly recommend it. You have to be able work strange sifts. Most of the shifts are two piece. You will find yourself working the the morning rush hour, then returning later in the day to drive in the PM rush hour. The job is not physically demanding but it can be stressful. Give it a try, it just might work for you.


JB said...

Long time reader, first time poster here. Very informative post, Andy! I've been thinking about applying for a transit driver position for years. I'm in my mid-30's and currently making good money working in an office, however, driving is one of life's joys for me. In short, what keeps me from applying is not the split shift work or the difference in pay (which I suppose can be supplemented by working overtime), it's the idea of not working up the seniority ladder for 10-15 years or more before getting a better shift and vacation time. There's also the issue of safety on the job, too.

Your blog helps to keep me from discarding the career change entirely though. Keep up the great work! Cheers!

Anonymous said...

I"m perplexed by the TTC and how they run things and also by driver attitudes. Now I work as a Subway Mechanic in maintenance and I just can't understand why TTC doesn't train maintenance staff to do short runs which would be paid as overtime. I'll tell yo the reason.....drivers see this as a threat to their overtime and have blocked the whole thing. The sad part is drivers can't fill up the extra overtime slots themselves anyway. I personally would not want to drive for overtime bu I'm sure there must be some people who would. Maintenance staff are trained in their respective fields how to drive these vehicles any way so I don't see the problem.

nixtuff said...

I would drive a bus, except

A - I was never all that good at driving a car


B - I'd be afraid of passenger assaults.

Andy said...

JB, comments are always welcome. Changing jobs does have it's down falls. Seniority is reward for staying at the job. It also eliminates favoritism.

There are down falls to vacation selections for TTC drivers. They can only pick 2 weeks in the summer months of July and August.

They do get 2 weeks vacation after completing one year of service and 3 weeks in the year in which their second anniversary falls.