(VIDEO) ‘American Dream’ is possible with TriMet says bus operator


TriMet bus operator, Teresa, participates in Career Day at Northeast Portland’s Scott Elementary

UPDATE: As of May 1, 2022, TriMet increased the bus operator starting wage to $25.24 per hour. New bus operators are also eligible to receive a $7,500 hiring bonus. Learn more at trimet.org/drive.

When Teresa arrived at Northeast Portland’s Scott Elementary last Tuesday, she parked her bus and hurried through the morning’s chilly drizzle to the school lobby. Career Day was finally here! It had been two years since she started planning for this day. Her daughter, then in second grade, is a fourth grader now.

“I would go and pick her up with my uniform, and that kind of sparked the interest, but with the pandemic and distance learning, that was a total wash,” Teresa explained. “So, today I’m here, and I’m excited to have the kids on board, to educate them on what it is to be a TriMet bus driver and how to ride the bus.”

Kindergartners climbed on board first. Little things, like the gentle “ding” of the Hop card reader, captured their attention. One by one, Teresa called the students up to the driver’s seat. She let them pretend like they were driving and pull down the microphone to make an announcement to the passengers.

“I want them to know that this can be a very exciting job. I want them to know that they can come on board a TriMet bus and feel safe. And, I want them to know that TriMet goes virtually everywhere in the city. You can use TriMet for your transportation,” she said.

The fact that career planning was likely years away for the kids wasn’t lost on Teresa. She believes it’s never too soon to start planting seeds for future ideas to grow.

“I went off to college, but I wasn’t quite certain of my career path,” she shared. “I think a lot of times kids really don’t know because they weren’t exposed to a lot of options.”

Options – like finding a job that allows you to do something you love. For Teresa, it’s all about creating positive interactions with other people.

“I took on this job because I love helping people, and I want to get people to their destinations safely. This is a career where you can climb very fast. I stay a bus driver because I like being a bus driver. I take pride in this job,” she said.

She says working at TriMet affords her something else that the children will likely learn about, in the school years to come.

“You can be rest assured that if you have a career as a bus driver, you can give your family that ‘American Dream’,” assured Teresa. “You can buy a home. You can travel all over the world. You can have your own, nice transportation. It’s a nice quality of living, and if you like to drive and you like people, well then you’re a good fit for the job.”

TriMet needs more bus operators like Teresa. There’s no experience required, but you do need to be at least 21 years old. We offer seven weeks of paid training, including Commercial Driver License (CDL) certification. And, new bus operators receive a $2,500 hiring bonus, with starting pay of $21.84 and the potential to earn $68,000 or more after three years on the job full time. In addition, we offer all new operators:

  • Medical, dental, vision, disability and life insurance plans at low or no monthly cost
  • Pension and retirement plans, which include a monthly agency contribution of 8% of an employee’s base pay
  • One week of paid vacation and up to 40 hours sick leave in the first year of employment, with paid time off increasing over time
  • Health and dependent care spending accounts
  • Access to our Employee Assistance Program with mental health and counseling services, legal assistance, financial coaching and home ownership programs
  • Annual transit pass (valued up to $1200) for employee and eligible family members
  • 24-hour access to five exclusive on-site fitness centers, with plans starting at $13/month
  • Representation by Amalgamated Transit Union (ATU) 757

Now driving 15 years and loving it, Teresa wants to help others imagine a career in the driver’s seat. She says working at TriMet can take you places, no matter what stage you find yourself in life.

“I want them to know that you might want to put college on hold for a minute, you could still come here and you could still do really great financially,” she said. “We have a lot of people that have four-year degrees that have left their careers to come here to work. You could come here and work part time, and that could fit in a school schedule as well. Who knows, you could pay your school fees with what you’re making here. There’s vast opportunities.”

Learn more and apply today! Visit trimet.org/driveforus.