Graduates part of CTA hiring related to Red Line South project
Mayor Rahm Emanuel joined CTA Board Chairman Terry Peterson and CTA President Forrest Claypool today in welcoming the second graduating class of new CTA bus drivers hired as part of the upcoming Red Line South reconstruction project.
In preparation for the 2013 project, the CTA is hiring 400 bus drivers who will operate the free shuttle buses and expanded supplemental bus service the CTA will offer customers during the construction project. Thirty-six drivers were part of today’s graduating class, following 33 earlier this month.
"The men and women who are graduating from this program and becoming CTA bus drivers will play a key role in helping Chicagoans go to work and school," said Mayor Emanuel. "These jobs will create economic opportunity throughout our city's neighborhoods."
Nearly all of the new hires came to the CTA after they attended one of the agency’s three bus driver job fairs this summer, or heard or saw the advertisements for the fairs, all of which were held in the footprint of the Red Line project between Roosevelt Road and 95th Street.
“The job fairs we held this summer were a key component of our promise to promote employment opportunities as part of this huge improvement project,” said Claypool. More than 4,000 men and women attended the fairs at Chicago State University, the National Teachers Academy and Kennedy King College in July, August and September.
The bus drivers start out as part-time employees, but eventually become full-time drivers as other drivers retire or leave CTA employment. Drivers earn a starting wage of $19.27 per hour with health care benefits kicking in after three months.
CTA bus drivers go through a 23-day training course before being assigned to bus routes. The training focuses on bus operations and customer service, with a strong emphasis on safety. Hiring and training the drivers ensures they will be well-prepared for the Red Line South project, set to begin in May 2013.
The reconstruction project will also offer hundreds of job opportunities to tradespeople and apprentices in carpentry, electrical, ironwork, laborers, operators, plumbers and other areas. While the CTA will not hire these employees directly, the agency is working with the general contractor, Kiewit Construction Corp., to ensure that opportunities are extended to individuals who qualify under the Workforce Investment Act (WIA) as displaced, out of work or otherwise economically disadvantaged.
In addition to the job fairs, the CTA also hosted several meet-and-greet sessions between the project contractors and potential Disadvantaged Business Enterprise firms, to encourage participation in the project. The initial efforts were very successful: The track work contract award included more than 29 percent DBE firms, slightly exceeding the CTA’s goal. The contract for station work, to be awarded this fall, is expected to exceed that percentage.
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