Eno Begins Research Effort on Bus Operator Workforce Management

Eno was recently awarded a research grant for the Transportation Research Board’s Transit Cooperative Research Program to study challenges, best practices, and innovative practices among fixed-route, flexible-route, and on-demand bus operators.

Bus operators make up the largest portion of employees in public transit agencies, thus serving as the “faces of the company” for transit agencies. In 2018, the public transportation industry had 231,425 total operating employees in the United States, 59 percent of which are vehicle operations employees in fixed route bus, commuter bus, demand-response and transit vanpool. Despite the customer-facing nature of bus operators, there is a growing need to recruit more operators to the workforce to replace current operators that are near retirement. Transit agencies across the country struggle to recruit and retain bus operators.

Among the challenges associated with operator recruitment and retention are compensation, hiring requirements, training requirements, work schedules and working conditions, and safety and health issues. Our research will explore these and other current operator workforce dynamics through a review of existing research, stakeholder interviews, a survey of labor and management stakeholders from transit properties, and case studies of up to eight transit agencies. From this research, the research team will develop a practitioner’s guide.

The research team includes members of Eno’s policy and professional development staff, as well as the Transportation Learning Center and Melissa Huber of Huber & Associates. The research effort will be underway through 2022.

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