RIPTA Raises Driver Starting Wage to $25.33 Per Hour in Response to Nationwide Driver Shortage


In response to the ongoing nationwide shortage of licensed commercial drivers, the Rhode Island Public Transit Authority (RIPTA) Board of Directors voted today to greenlight a significant wage increase for members of the Amalgamated Transit Union (ATU) Division 618. The approved collective bargaining agreement entails an increase in the starting driver wage from $21.71 per hour to $25.33 per hour, effective this week. Additionally, the top pay step of existing ATU salaries, excluding Van Operators, will witness a $1.00 increase, with lower pay steps being adjusted accordingly. ATU 618 represents the 488 current fixed-route and paratransit drivers employed by RIPTA.

While the current collective bargaining agreement remains in force until June 30, 2025, RIPTA opted to reopen the contract early to address the pressing issue of the ongoing driver shortage. Despite diligent recruitment efforts, the rate of driver retirements is outpacing the agency’s ability to bring in new recruits.

Scott Avedisian, RIPTA’s Chief Executive Officer, emphasized the significance of the wage increase, stating, “This crucial wage increase benefits not only our drivers but our passengers as well. This will enable us to attract and retain drivers, ensuring that the public can rely on RIPTA to be there when the bus schedule says we are going to be there.”

Last month, in response to the shortage, RIPTA announced proposed statewide service reductions. The nationwide labor shortage in the transit sector has a direct impact on the level of service RIPTA can provide. The agency is proposing to recalibrate its schedules to align with the workforce it currently has, aiming for accuracy and reliability in passenger services. The plan is to reinstate service levels as soon as the workforce permits.

Avedisian stressed that while RIPTA’s Transit Master Plan envisions service expansion, it is hindered by the lack of a necessary workforce. He added, “We cannot continue to expand service if we do not have the necessary workforce.”

As part of a broader initiative to address the shortage and attract new drivers, RIPTA will be hosting a job fair on Friday, March 15, 2024, from 10 am to 3 pm at RIPTA headquarters located at 705 Elmwood Avenue, Providence. Interested applicants are encouraged to attend in person or apply online at New bus operators can benefit from up to 8 weeks of paid training, including commercial driver license (CDL) education and certification. RIPTA offers competitive salaries, a comprehensive benefits package, life insurance policies, pension plans, paid vacations, PTO, sick leave, wellness programs, and opportunities for advancement and long-term growth from within.




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