INDIANAPOLIS — IndyGo says ridership is booming but they are having trouble keeping up with demand, thanks to a shortage of bus drivers. Last week IndyGo announced plans to make adjustments to multiple bus routes due to the driver shortage. IndyGo is trying to counter the issue with a massive hiring effort of 100 drivers.
“It is not lost on us, that since the pandemic and over the last several months, our service is not where it should be. It’s not where riders expect it to be, and it’s not where we want it to be,” Carrie Black said.
IndyGo says bus ridership has bounced back after slowing during the pandemic and that bounce back is happening at the same time that the Indianapolis transit agency is expanding its rapid transit Red and Purple Lines. IndyGo spokesperson Carrie Black says in order to keep up with demand, they’re going to need more drivers.
“The proof is in the numbers. The good news is our ridership is rebounding. We are trending up, not only on the Red Line but on other routes across our system. So yes! Riders are coming back, and we’re super excited about that, but at the same time we are struggling to get more drivers to be able to keep up with the ridership and be able to keep up with the service that we’ve committed to provide,” Black said.
IndyGo has already been in the process of adjusting routes for its redesigned network map. But now the transit system is having to roll out major modifications due to the shortage of bus drivers. Twelve current routes will see frequency changes and that means longer wait times for passengers.
Black says IndyGo is working hard to attract more drivers. She says that includes paying new hires during training, which is often a hurdle for people working to get their cdl.
“That training is about eight to 10 weeks. If you need your CDL then that’s folded into the training, but it teaches you everything from the rules of the road when driving the bus. How to operate the bus. How to maneuver. It also teaches customer service,” Black said.
Starting pay for bus driver’s at IndyGo is $20 an hour. IndyGo has multiple mechanic and technician openings. The salary for a “Connected Vehicle Technician” is $55,000 to $65,000 per year. Higher rates are offered for drivers and mechanics coming in with experience. You can apply at IndyGo.net.
“We have many employees, many bus drivers who are putting their children through college, who are living a very nice life, thanks to the wage that they make from IndyGo,” Black said.
IndyGo is also taking advantage of a grant from the African American Quality of Life Initiative to hire an Community Recruitment Manager. Their main job will be finding new drivers to add to IndyGo’s staff.
“This is a brand-new position we have never had before. We are creating it to specifically reach out to the African-American community and other minority communities in recruiting bus drivers and mechanics,” Black said.