RICHMOND, Va. (WWBT) - The Greater Richmond Transit System (GRTC) plans to launch a new service line in the Spring of 2020, which means it’s in need of more bus drivers!
Routes along Jefferson Davis Highway into Chesterfield County are anticipated to come online in March, but to accommodate those future riders, GRTC needs people to hop behind the wheel.
“We currently have about 260 full-time operators,” said GRTC spokeswoman Carrie Rose Pace. “Two years ago before all the changes would have been more then enough, [but] now with the Pulse, service expansions in Henrico and service enhancements in the City of Richmond, plus all normal expresses (including Kings Dominion), we are striving to keep up with the rate of growth.”
Rose Pace said GRTC has seen ridership increase by roughly 16% over the last year.
"Most transit systems are shrinking service or losing ridership but we're in the exact opposite situation which is excellent for us," she added.
With the future of the transit system heading into Chesterfield County it opens the doors for more public transportation options and more jobs.
"Everyone who got on the bus [during National Night Out in Chesterfield] said they were so excited and couldn't wait for the service because it is so needed," Rose Pace said.
Ideally, GRTC would like to hire roughly 20 drivers to cover the new service along with a handful of drivers expected to retire in the coming years.
People interested in applying for the job must meet the following requirements:
- At least 21 years of age
- A high school diploma or GED
- A Virginia CDL Class B License with a Passenger Endorsement and Air Brake qualification.
- A five (5) point balance on their driving record and must pass a background check, a pre-employment drug test and a DOT physical.
However, perhaps the most important requirement goes far beyond what’s on paper, excellent customer service skills.
“A lot of our bus drivers are people people,” Rose Pace said. “They love working with the public, getting to know their riders and providing that safe customer service, friendly service.”
"You have flexible hours,” said GRTC Transportation Supervisor Ross Long. “It's exciting, you get to meet people, you get to work with amazing people and it's something different every day. It's not your regular 9-5 job."
Most 9-5 jobs don’t require you to drive massive buses down the street of Richmond and Henrico, but for Chowlin Clantin driving a Pulse bus is pretty normal.
"It's like driving your car!” she said. “You just gotta whip it."
But not whipping it like you'd see in the Fast and Furious movies because of the precious cargo Clanton is carrying inside!
“[The passengers] they greet me, say hey girl how’s it going, how’s your day?” Clanton said. “I try to make everyone happy because you know everyone goes through something each day. Try to make them smile.”
Making them smile before they hop on the bus to when they get off.
"I smile every day," Clanton said.
When it comes to challenges in the position most bus drivers said it’s what they sometimes see in their rear-view mirror.
“We deal with all kinds of personalities every day, all day,” Long said. “So you're going to encounter wonderful people, you'll encounter people a little more difficult to deal with, but yet we still provide the service necessary."
As that service continues to grow, GRTC buses will continue to trek down roads across RVA while leaders focus on finding more drivers like Clanton.
"I try to build a relationship with the passengers,” she said.
In June GRTC Pulse was among the top-rated rapid transit corridors in the country, according to the Institute for Transportation and Development Policy receiving the Bronze Standard rating.
For more information on careers with GRTC, click here.
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