MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Public transportation companies across the nation are experiencing a staff shortage. And the Memphis Area Transit Authority is no different.
Public transportation is on a bumpy road.
These days, it is not about where you are going or how long it takes. It is about who is taking you.
MATA CEO, Gary Rosenfeld, said MATA has hit a crossroad in staff shortages.
“Our customers are frustrated. They’re paying the price of the labor shortage. It’s a really unfair burden to place on their shoulders,” said Gary Rosenfeld, MATA CEO.
There is a shortage of drivers, mechanics, and administrative staffing.
“We’re short about 20% of our total workforce compliment… When you have that and then you have 10 or 12 or 15 people off work due to some form of COVID-related issue, it sets us up not to be able to meet the community’s expectations,” said Rosenfeld. “In order to overcome the turnover rates and other issues that face bus operators and mechanics, we probably need to generate between 20 and 30 certified employees each month. Right now, we’re not hitting our target of 10.”
MATA is also competing with other jobs that have increased wages.
“As we attempt to respond to that, we run into some budgetary issues,” said Rosenfeld.
Not all roads lead to a dead end. MATA has partnered with groups such as TCAT to get more hires.
“We’ve also stepped up our outreach in person to attend job fairs, as well as a stepped up presence in advertising,” said Rosenfeld. “We’ve had different incentive programs that we put together, signing programs if you will, for people that come into our training programs, for people that are already licensed or hold certifications.”
Some of those signing bonuses are up to $3,000. They even have a commercial driver’s license training program.
“We will take someone who is not licensed and give them some additional training above and beyond what we do for our bus operators so that they get an opportunity to get a commercial driver’s license,” said Rosenfeld. “We are working hard to try to have the positions and the pay and the benefits evolve into what is important to today’s workforce, while balancing what was important to the workforce that came 10 or 15 years ago.”
MATA also asks employers to be patient with their employees who use public transportation as they navigate through these new times of the pandemic.