Kitsap Transit: Recruiting campaign debuts

PORT ORCHARD — Kitsap Transit has kicked off a campaign designed to enhance the recruitment of new bus drivers for the transit agency.

The campaign, “Work Where You Live,” is part of Kitsap Transit’s ongoing recruitment effort through help-wanted ads and career fairs to fill vacancies in its workforce, said Sanjay Bhatt, the agency’s spokesman.

In a series of new videos, Kitsap Transit highlights the benefits of a career as a bus driver, introduced two years ago through its “Drive Your Career” campaign.

Bhatt said the agency offers benefits that include Step 1 pay of $18.31-$20.31 per hour and a minimum of 30 hours per week guaranteed. The agency provides competitive medical, dental and vision benefits for employees and their families, as well as paid leave and pension eligibility. Drivers who are hired receive paid training of $16.13-$17.90 per hour during a 12-week training program that prepares them to take commercial driver’s license tests prior to driving for Kitsap Transit.

Bhatt said some operators choose to become full-time drivers and have been promoted into management. He said John Clausen, Kitsap Transit’s executive director, is a former bus driver with the agency.

Kitsap Transit’s “drive” for additional operators is reflective of a current nationwide shortage of bus drivers, which is expected to get worse, according to the American Public Transportation Association (APTA). In the next five years, a wave of “Baby Boomer” retirements will reduce the number of drivers who have commercial driver’s licenses. The truck driving industry faced a shortage of 50,000 truck drivers in 2017, according to APTA, which could rise to a shortage of 174,000 by 2026.

“In some communities, the shortage already has been blamed on reduced or delayed expansion of transit services,” Bhatt said in a news release.

Kitsap Transit launched the “Drive Your Career” campaign in 2017 with video testimonials from routed and ACCESS drivers on YouTube, transit advertising, Facebook ads and ads in local movie theaters. The agency also offers employees a $500 referral bonus if applicants they have referred get hired and successfully complete probation.

As part of the new “Work Where You Live” campaign, Kitsap Transit is rolling out a series of new videos showcasing current drivers for routed and ACCESS services. Bhatt said the campaign was launched just before Thanksgiving with a 30-second spot during the pre-show at the Galaxy Uptown Luxury Theater in Gig Harbor, which will air through January. More videos debuted this week on Facebook, YouTube, Vimeo and the Kitsap Transit website.

Next year, Kitsap Transit plans to offer training classes in January, February, March, April, August and September. Information about becoming a bus driver, or transit operator, at the agency can be found at kitsaptransit.com/drive.

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