Transit recruitment news: Bi-State Development; KAT; Transdev

Sept. 29, 2022
Retention pay, higher starting pay and a commitment to hire refugees are all tactics transit stakeholders are using for workforce development.

A trio of related initiatives announced during the past week in the private and public sector is putting a spotlight on new tactics transit industry stakeholders are putting into practice to attract, retain and develop their workforce.

In the St. Louis region, the Bi-State Development Board of Commissioners approved a $2.6 million plan to invest in new and current programs to attract and retain top talent. Bi-State Development explains it hired 368 people in the first three quarters of FY2022 but lost 469. It says the incentive programs will cover what Bi-State Development calls “quick hits” designed to help team members feel more valued.

The new programs are aimed at directly addressing known challenges. In the benefits and wellness area, it will support paid parental leave, provide a subsidy for childcare/eldercare, cover the cost of tuition reimbursement and student loan subsidies and pay for onsite mental health professionals to be available for employees in need of such services. A new Wellness & Advocacy Center is being created, and team members will have new HDHP/Health Savings Account medical plan options. Family transit passes will also be available to team members to encourage them to bring their families onboard Metro Transit.

Issues negatively influencing company culture will be addressed through a new, multi-faceted management development initiative and anti-bias and anti-racism training, while the companywide deployment of an app will help to improve direct communication and engagement with team members who do not have access to email because their work environment is a transit vehicle or transit center, and not an office space. Other benefits include improving recognition of all team members.

“We have to make some dramatic changes in how we compete for talent, both through recruiting and retention, so we can maintain the levels of customer service needed to keep our region moving forward,” said Bi-State Development President and CEO Taulby Roach. “It is imperative we create and sustain the most effective and efficient work environment we can support.”

In Knoxville, Tenn., Knoxville Area Transit (KAT) is holding a job fair at its Knoxville Station Transit Center on Sept. 29 and Oct. 1 to recruit bus and trolley operators and maintenance service team members. KAT says it has implemented an overall compensation package that equates to about 30 percent more than the base hourly rate of pay and starting wage rates ranging from $17.92/hour for maintenance staff, $16.55/hour for trolley operators and $18.00/hour for bus operators.

Transdev North America is partnering with Tent Partnership for Refugees on a workforce development strategy that will see the company commit to hiring and training refugees in the U.S. Transdev says the move aligned with its purpose of serving the common good. Currently, the U.S. is welcoming refugees from Afghanistan, Ukraine and other countries who have been forcibly displaced.

“We’re excited to bring new talent and people into the transit industry, while helping improve the lives of refugees from around the world,” said Mark Salisbury, Transdev’s chief human resources officer. “Transdev is excited to be one of 260 companies to partner with Tent and pledge to hire refugees so they can economically integrate in the U.S. It’s just one more way Transdev is helping serve the common good.”

Transdev is one of 45 employers that will collectively hire and train more than 22,000 refugees during the next three years in a commitment finalized at the Tent Business Summit. According to Tent, a group of companies consisting of FedEx, Gap Inc., Genpact, Graham Packaging, Henry Schein, Kimball Midwest, Mastercorp, Panda Express, Silgan Dispensing, Spencer’s, Sumitomo Electric, The Kellogg Company, Transdev and US Xpress made a collective commitment to hire 2,275 refugees in the United States.

“The American business community is showing incredible leadership, and I am so proud of the companies, including Transdev standing up for refugees today,” said Hamdi Ulukaya, CEO of Chobani and founder of Tent. “These companies will benefit from welcoming these hard-working, loyal and resilient individuals – but my hope is that this is only the beginning. As refugee crises start to fade from the headlines, I hope that companies will recognize that hiring refugees is not only the right thing to do, but also the smart thing to do.”

About the Author

Mischa Wanek-Libman | Editor in Chief

Mischa Wanek-Libman serves as editor in chief of Mass Transit magazine. She is responsible for developing and maintaining the magazine’s editorial direction and is based in the western suburbs of Chicago.

Wanek-Libman has spent more than 20 years covering transportation issues including construction projects and engineering challenges for various commuter railroads and transit agencies. She has been recognized for editorial excellence through her individual work, as well as for collaborative content. 

She is an active member of the American Public Transportation Association's Marketing and Communications Committee and serves as a Board Observer on the National Railroad Construction and Maintenance Association (NRC) Board of Directors.  

She is a graduate of Drake University, where she earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Journalism and Mass Communication with a major in magazine journalism and a minor in business management.

Bi-State Development Agency of the Missouri-Illinois Metropolitan District (St. Louis Metro) (Metro)
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Knoxville Area Transit
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