Metro facing bus driver shortage
Metro's board of directors voted against a proposal Thursday that would allow the transit agency to increase the pool of candidates for bus driver jobs.
The $750,000 contract would have allowed Metro to outsource some of the screening for the positions to increase its recruitment efforts. The human resources department is unable to process "the volume of candidates" needed to create a suitable hiring pool. It takes a class of 1,000 candidates to get 30 suitable trainees, said Gary Baldwin, Metro's director of human resources.
It's a "huge problem," he said. The issue started with a hiring freeze in 2008 and 2009, officials said, and attrition rates due to retirements, resignations and medical disqualifications have "steadily increased" for both bus driver and rail operator jobs. Train operators are normally drawn from the ranks of bus drivers.
"If we don't take care of that bubble, we will not have bus drivers to drive the buses," said Interim General Manager Richard Sarles.
Metro also tightened its employment requirements in the summer of 2009, limiting the eligibility of people with felony and misdemeanor convictions for jobs based on the the number of infractions and when the crime was committed.
A staff proposal said the contract would have been funded through overtime savings, but board members balked.
"Absent some better explanation on why we are spending nearly a million dollars for this purpose, I can't support this," board member Jim Graham said.
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