March_2022 - 14

Driver Recruitment
" [I
think the]
really tough
working conditions in the pandemic
has accelerated a lot of
people's decisions to leave their
jobs, " Seeskin shared.
Coupled with these challenges,
when Omicron hit SST, a new issue
emerged. About a third of SST's
staff were out sick, impacting its
ability to maintain full service.
" One [issue] was we didn't
have the initial bodies to put out
the full service that we had scheduled.
Then, the other thing is for
the drivers who were not sick, we
didn't want to overuse them and
make them vulnerable to becoming
sick because they were just
worn out, " Flint said.
As this past winter season approached,
SST knew it wasn't going
to reach pre-pandemic staffing
levels, so it built a schedule to be
nearly 25 percent short of its typical
full service. This way, SST
offered a consistent schedule to
better serve the public. And as the
world continues to move forward,
Flint is hopeful SST will reach
pre-pandemic full staffing levels.
Attracting and
However, that hope of returning
to pre-pandemic staffing levels
won't come without its own set of
challenges. Attracting and retaining
employees is going to require
strategic investments and new
approaches. Libero Della Piana,
senior strategist at the Alliance
for a Just Society, explains this
could include adding people to
the potential labor pool.
" There are a lot of inequitable
barriers to jobs like minor past
offenses which block many young
men and women of color from
these jobs unnecessarily, " Della
Piana said.
Della Piana and Seeskin also
agree investing in pay increases
can make the transit industry more
competitive. Seeskin notes agencies
can conduct research into how its
wages compare to similar agencies
and across industries by access14
| Mass Transit | | MARCH 2022
sive and limited. But relying on
the market can't be guaranteed
each year. Knowing this, SST is
looking to build and maintain its
own housing.
" If we don't have housing, we
don't have a transit system. It is a
business expense that we've just
had to absorb, " Flint explained.
" [Adding housing] will at least allow
us to get drivers in the door. "
Finding and
Creating Quality
To get those drivers in the door,
Flint shares one thing that has
worked well for them is asking
how the applicant heard about
SST and why they applied.
" What that's done is enabled
us to focus in on the areas that are
working really well, " Flint said.
" Even though, maybe it's more
expensive to place advertisement
here or do that in-person recruiting,
the results of that have been
very good. "
One area that has been workSST
subsidized housing
to its seasonal
drivers since the
housing market
has limited and
expensive options.
ing data provided by the Bureau
of Labor Statistics. Agencies can
also improve working conditions
to create a safer and more pleasant
environment. This is something
many are doing by providing PPE,
adding routine cleaning regiments
and socially distancing operators
from passengers.
With this in mind, Flint shares
SST's primary focus is on retention.
" The most valuable thing that
we can have is a driver who already
works here, does a good job,
shows up [and] is a safe driver,
good with customers; that driver
is gold, " Flint said.
To help with retention, SST
offers cash bonuses to returning
drivers and full-time drivers at
the start of the busy season.
But SST takes another unique
Currently, SST signs on to lease
apartments in the summer to offer
them at a highly subsidized
rate to its seasonal drivers in the
winter since housing is expening
for SST is recruiting drivers
from the oil and gas industry.
" When we broadened out to
other people with a CDL, but maybe
weren't in the transit industry,
but had a lot of the same attributes
that we look for, it was actually a
pretty good fit, " Flint said.
Seeskin agrees this is a good
approach to finding more talent,
adding that agencies could consider
other areas such as the construction
industry. But targeting
specific areas and industries isn't
the only way to find quality talent.
Another way agencies can invest
in their workforce is to establish
pipelines to transit jobs at an early
age. This can help with people's
perception and show that there is
more to the industry than most
" Overall, it
is imperative to
start outreach early and illustrate
transit's opportunities, community-based
role and the nature of
the work, as they align with young
people's values, " said Jack Clark,
executive director, International


Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of March_2022

Editor’s Notebook
People & Places
Riders are Coming Back but Where are the Drivers?
Turning a BRT Line into a Successful Network
Capital Programs Strike Steady Pace
How the Village of Bedford Park and Uber Connect People to Jobs
Sound Transit Driving Consensus Against All Odds
Best Practices
March_2022 - 1
March_2022 - 2
March_2022 - 3
March_2022 - 4
March_2022 - 5
March_2022 - Editor’s Notebook
March_2022 - 7
March_2022 - People & Places
March_2022 - 9
March_2022 - 10
March_2022 - 11
March_2022 - Riders are Coming Back but Where are the Drivers?
March_2022 - 13
March_2022 - 14
March_2022 - 15
March_2022 - Turning a BRT Line into a Successful Network
March_2022 - 17
March_2022 - 18
March_2022 - 19
March_2022 - Capital Programs Strike Steady Pace
March_2022 - 21
March_2022 - 22
March_2022 - 23
March_2022 - How the Village of Bedford Park and Uber Connect People to Jobs
March_2022 - 25
March_2022 - 26
March_2022 - 27
March_2022 - Sound Transit Driving Consensus Against All Odds
March_2022 - 29
March_2022 - 30
March_2022 - 31
March_2022 - Products
March_2022 - 33
March_2022 - Best Practices
March_2022 - 35
March_2022 - 36