DTA launches only way to solve driver shortage

DULUTH, MN. (Northern News Now) – Duluth Transport Authority leaders say they are short on staff and are looking to hire more bus drivers.

They will offer a unique hands-on experience this week that can help you see what the job entails.

Rod Fournier has spent most of his working life behind the wheel of a city bus.

“I have been a bus driver for almost 16 years,” says Fournier.

Currently Fournier is the General Manager of DTA.

He says being a bus driver is a rewarding job.

“Overall, the people you have to deal with on a daily basis is probably one of the best aspects of it,” says Fournier.

But recently, the DTA has struggled to attract applicants for bus driver positions.

“We are short of about 15 bus operators. We’ve done a lot to encourage people to apply for these roles,” said David Clark, Marketing Director of Duluth Transportation Authority.

According to Clark, this weekend they are trying a new approach.

Not only did the DTA tell people about driving the bus, they put them behind the wheel to try it out.

They will be hosting their first “Your turn to drive” event on Friday, October 14 from 9:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. and Saturday, October 15 from 9:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. afternoon

At the event, you can drive a city bus through a simulation course in the parking lot at the Duluth Heritage Center.

“We think it’s really important to give people an opportunity to have a look at what it’s like to drive a bus,” Clark said.

“We mean that we can teach anyone to drive a bus, and over the years we have proven it,” says Fournier.

According to Fournier, the most important quality may be based more on personality.

“What we’re really looking for are people who enjoy communicating with the public and are people’s people,” says Fournier.

And while test driving a bus can be fun, Clark said he hopes it will inspire people to get in the driver’s seat for the long haul.

“It was a very meaningful career serving the community,” says Clark.

This past summer, the DTA planned to roll out a new simplified service system that they had developed from the Better Bus Blueprint study over the past few years.

They don’t have enough staff to make those changes, which is one reason for the event.

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