Over the last week, 30 individuals were recognized for completing the Bus Operator Apprenticeship Program and becoming certified bus operators during socially distanced graduation ceremonies at the Metro Transit Police & Office Facility.
The program is a partnership between the ATU Local 1005 and Metro Transit and involves ride-alongs, group meetings and mentoring.
“The first year is critical, especially this past year,” said Brian Funk, deputy chief of operations. “Once you’re out there, you find out there’s more to learn, and you need a mentor to help guide you.”
The bus operator certification is recognized nationally, much like a certificate-holding pipefitter or plumber, certifying a level of training and expertise. To date, 100 operators have completed the program. Another 67 bus operators remain enrolled in the program.
“This is not a job – it’s a skilled profession,” said Alec Johnson, apprenticeship coordinator. “This certificate program should have been done a long time ago.”
Amanuel Simursab, an immigrant from Ethiopia who speaks English as a second language, said he found the apprenticeship program and its mentor support invaluable.
“It feels good to have accomplished this and have a physical reminder of what I’ve done,” Simursab said.
Now hiring bus operators
Metro Transit is accepting bus operator applications in hopes of hiring 40 new full-time operators by this summer. The last class of new operators began in March 2020. Learn more about applying to become a bus operator at metrocouncil.org.