Jacksonville Transportation Authority is down 20% of bus driver staff (Courtesy of First Coast News) –The Jacksonville Transportation Authority is facing a shortage of bus drivers and has increased recruiting and training throughout the city in an effort to fill driver seats and reduce the impact on service.
“I use the bus every day, I’m a disabled vet, I can’t drive anymore,” Ralph Gomez, a disabled veteran, said.
Since Ralph Gomez lost his ability to drive four years ago, he has relied on bus transportation.
“I depend on the bus for all my VA doctors’ appointments, my medicaid doctor’s appointments, to see friends, without it I’d be walking and I can’t walk that far,” Gomez said.
With over 80 different bus routes stretching all over Jacksonville, the buses are key to moving people across the city.
“I’ve been here my whole life, Jacksonville is so spread out, that if you don’t have the busses to get around, your basically trapped on one side of the river or the other, or one neighborhood or the other,” Ronald Stewart, a Jacksonville native, said.
The Jacksonville Transportation Authority is looking to fill 76 full-time bus operators positions, it’s about 20% of their full-time staff. JTA leaders say the budget allows for 368 full-time bus operators, but only 292 are in service. In addition to the full-time positions, 21 part-time operator positions are also available.
“We are looking at different angles of how we can get people through the doors and how we can make the salary more attractive. We’re not just transportation. We are moving people to their doctor’s appointments, we’re moving them to recreational events, to their jobs, to education and you can make that impact on your community,” Sandy Beaumont, JTA Director of workforce development and training, said.
To get more bus operators on the streets, 29 operator trainees are undergoing intensive training to join the team.
It’s a job that the community relies on.
“Trying to get day to day when you don’t have a car, maybe you have to go to the store you might need something in the drop of a dime, but if you have a reliable bus schedule, then it makes it easier for you. So the whole system itself, JTA, is set up really fantastic,” Dominique Robinson, a rider, said.
If you are interested in working with JTA, you can click here to see job opportunities.