Ahead of big hiring event, TriMet bus operator encourages job seekers to ‘try it’


TriMet’s hosting a special hiring event on Tuesday, May 17 from 10 a.m. – 3 p.m. at the Courtyard Portland Downtown/Convention Center, where participants can ask questions, attend orientation, interview and receive a conditional job offer in one, easy stop

TriMet bus operator Niktani Somilleda

Niktani Somilleda looks fresh in his bright blue TriMet uniform, even after driving a full shift on Line 75-Cesar Chavez/Lombard. It’s his last day on the route. 

“Now I’m jumping on the 9,” he said.

Niktani will move to Line 9-Powell next week for TriMet’s spring/summer service. Bus operators sign up for preferred routes and schedules about every four months. Like the 75, Line 9 travels through diverse pockets of the Portland metro area. Niktani likes that. 

“It’s funny because you drive the same streets and make the same turns every day, but every day is different. Every day, there is something new, and I like it because every day is a new day.”

A native of Mexico and former resident of California, Niktani has lived in Portland for more than 20 years. He worked at a warehouse and operated buses for TriMet’s paratransit contractor for five years before making the move to our driver’s seat.

“I wanted to try something different, with better pay for a better quality of life,” he remembered. “I decided to come to TriMet to see the benefits… to put myself in a position where I want to stay and keep going.”

His love for driving helped bring him to TriMet, and his passion for people keeps Niktani going. He says that for him, job satisfaction means more than bringing in a good paycheck.

“Think about what you’re doing for the community. The most important part is, you’re driving people safely from point A to point B,” he said. “I see elderly people coming onto the bus. No matter where they’re going, they need to be getting there safely. Same thing for people who are going to work.” 

Fifteen years into his career, Niktani’s life has changed. He’s married and makes his home in Milwaukie, with children who love seeing their dad in uniform.

Operator Niktani Somilleda

“Every time that I wear this uniform, it makes me something – something important,” said Niktani. “And I see my kids, and they see me with the uniform and they say, ‘Oh wow! Bus driver!’ And then they get all excited.”

Niktani wants to bring others on board too, doing his part to help TriMet reverse the most severe bus operator staffing shortage in our agency’s history. 

“I encourage people to give it a shot, to try. It’s a good career. It’s good benefits, good pay. If you give it a shot, I bet you’ll like it, and you’ll be proud to be with TriMet,” he said.

Special Hiring Event

TriMet’s making it easy to put yourself in the driver’s seat and on the road to a starting wage of $25.24 per hour and a $7,500 hiring bonus! We’re hosting a special hiring event on Tuesday, May 17 at the Courtyard Portland Downtown/Convention Center hotel. Participants will have an opportunity to apply for the job, ask questions, attend orientation, interview, and even walk away with a conditional job offer! 

TriMet Hiring Event

Tuesday, May 17, 10 a.m. – 3 p.m.

Courtyard Portland Downtown/Convention Center

435 NE Wasco St., Portland, Oregon  97232

Orientation session #1: 10 a.m.

Orientation session #2: 1 p.m.

Learn more and RSVP 

Applicants are invited to attend one of two orientation sessions, which will be held at 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. Each session will provide an overview of the position of bus operator, including expectations and requirements of the job; pay scale, seniority and benefits; schedules, routes and garage assignments; and opportunities for advancement. Everyone who completes an application can expect to be interviewed during the event, even if they are unable to attend an orientation session. 

To take full advantage of this unique hiring opportunity, applicants should bring with them:

  • Government-issued I.D.
  • Valid driver license  
  • Employment history 
  • Professional references

Having these items at the event is not required but will contribute to a participant’s successful completion of the application process and receipt of a conditional job offer at the event. Candidates who receive a conditional offer will be scheduled to begin training once all pre-employment requirements are met.

Learn more and apply today!

Our special hiring event will provide job seekers a unique opportunity to apply for a job and potentially land a conditional offer in one stop, but you don’t have to wait to join the TriMet team. Learn more about the positions available, the benefits package for TriMet employees and more at trimet.org/driveforus.