(VIDEO) TriMet boosts bonus for newly hired bus operators to $3,500


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.

With hiring efforts in high gear, TriMet is shifting our bus operator hiring bonus up a notch! Starting today, March 28, all newly hired TriMet bus operators will be eligible to receive a $3,500 hiring bonus. That’s a $1,000 increase in the hiring bonus we’ve been offering since September 2021. 

TriMet is looking for people who love working with the public. You don’t need experience driving a bus to join our team! You’ll get everything you need to know during our seven-week training program, which includes Commercial Driver License (CDL) certification and a choice between full-time or part-time work schedules. 

Bonus plus guaranteed pay raises

We worked with our partners at Amalgamated Transit Union (ATU) 757, the union that represents TriMet’s bus operators, to increase starting pay to $21.84, but that’s just the beginning. Under our current Working and Wage Agreement, bus operators receive regular, guaranteed raises and achieve the top rate of $33.65 per hour in their 35th month of work for TriMet. That means that within three years of coming on board, our full-time bus operators earn at least $68,000 annually. Operators who want to earn more can do so easily with overtime opportunities that you can sign up for, when you want or need them!

Plenty of employment benefits

In addition to the hiring bonus and pay scale improvements, TriMet bus operators also earn excellent benefits, including low-to-no cost medical, dental, vision, life and disability insurance, as well as paid vacation and sick time. In addition, new bus operators have access to two retirement plans.

Donnita McCown, Bus operator

“I have paid off all of my bills. I couldn’t have done that working a $15 an hour job,” summarized Donnita McCown, who has been driving for TriMet for about eight years. “My insurance, health and dental, is just amazing. You don’t pay a whole lot; in fact, very little. And for retirement, you can’t beat it. We have two retirement accounts. We have a 401a that TriMet puts into and then a 457b that I put into. When I go to retire, I won’t have to worry about Social Security, because I’m going to have two very awesome retirement plans.”

Opportunities for growth

TriMet bus operators gain access to job opportunities that you can’t find anywhere else. Take for example, the position of light rail operator. All MAX and Portland Streetcar operators started out in the bus driver’s seat. Career paths for bus operators have included roles in our Transportation Division such as station agent, trainer, supervisor, manager and more. Bus operators have also charted a path into service planning, scheduling or other administrative roles. Even our General Manager, Sam Desue Jr., went from the ranks of the U.S. Army to drive a bus, which began his successful career in mass transportation.

Employment with purpose

Working in public transit is a rewarding career that offers a high level of stability and many opportunities for growth. Like many industries, especially those that are customer and public-facing, TriMet is challenged by the current conditions in the labor market. Early this year, TriMet temporarily reduced bus service by about 9% as a direct result of our ongoing operator shortage. Bringing more operators on board is critical, not only to service restoration but also to service expansion opportunities of the future. 

We are recruiting for our next new bus operator training class! Visit trimet.org/drive to learn more and apply today!