One of the reasons many VTA bus drivers make more than $100,000 a year is that transit agencies have a difficult time filling the often grueling positions, VTA General Manager Michael Burns told the post.
VTA boss says such jobs are tough to fill
“It’s the toughest job in the industry,” Burns said. According to payroll data published by the Post on March 22, the base pay for a VTA bus driver is $62,650, but when you calculate overtime and “other” pay, the average bus driver makes $86,000 a year – the same amount the average Palo Alto public schoolteacher makes.
In comparison, private-sector bus drivers in the Bay Area make $25 an hour or $52,000 year on average, according to the U.S. Bureau of labor Statistics. Burns said the agency is hiring and that even with the current wage, it has a difficult time attracting candidates.
Burns said bus drivers have a difficult job because they are in the public eye, forced to deal with the citizen face-to-face and because they can’t just take a bathroom break whenever they need to. “It’s not easy,” Burns told the post. But Burns added that hiring bus drivers isn’t as difficult as it once was.
“We use to have a hard time attracting people,” Burns said, ” but now it’s getting easier.” He said the high wages help.
VTA employs 75 bus drivers who make $100,000 a year or more, including one, Kenneth Darden, who made $191,210 last year.
Burns said as VTA ridership picks up, many bus drivers are working longer hours and earning more in overtime pay. “We have a lot of operators working 60 hours a week,” Burns said.
VTA’s 903 bus drivers also receive generous benefit packages that include fully paid health and dental insurance, up to six weeks’ paid vacation, 12 paid holidays, 12 sick days and a full pension. Employees and their families also receive free bus and light rail passes.
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