Transit Windsor looking to ramp up service, fill vacancies


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Transit Windsor needs drivers.

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The problem is so does nearly every other municipal transit entity, trucking company and school bus provider.

“These are good jobs that pay well,” said Tyson Cragg, executive director for Transit Windsor. “They include a full complement of benefits and pension. But what we have found is almost every other transit system out there is facing the same thing.

“There are a lot of companies out there that need drivers whether it is trucking or bus providers. We are all competing for the same labor pool.”

Transit Windsor primarily due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has operated for a prolonged period with reduced services — currently at about 80 per cent, he said.

We are getting plenty of applicants, but they have to be qualified applicants

“Currently, we offer an enhanced Saturday level of service,” Cragg said. “All routes are available, but at a reduction in frequency.”

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With pandemic restrictions starting to ease, administrators at Transit Windsor want to get back to providing “regular service,” but simply do not have sufficient drivers to do so, he said.

A Transit Windsor bus approaches a stop on Lauzon Road on Tuesday, November 30, 2021.
A Transit Windsor bus approaches a stop on Lauzon Road on Tuesday, November 30, 2021. Photo by Dan Janisse /Windsor Star

Prior to the pandemic, Transit Windsor had 190 drivers in place — currently there are only 160. The numbers have declined for a combination of reasons that include retirements, attrition and those who chose not to comply with the city’s mandatory COVID-19 vaccine requirements.

“Our operations team and human resources team are interviewing like crazy to get people in the seats,” said Cragg, who noted a pay range of between roughly $24 to $32 per hour for drivers.

“We are making offers and they are either being declined or once we set up training classes for them they decline and decide to go somewhere else.”

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Part of the driver vacancy issue is also that applicants must be able to meet eligibility requirements that include proper licence, driving experience, ability to travel into the US, plus clean driving and criminal records, he said.

“We are getting plenty of applicants, but they have to be qualified applicants,” Cragg said.

The need is even more critical given that university, college and area school classrooms are also moving closer to normal and those students are a large portion of Transit Windsor’s riders.

“Our goal right now is to ramp up back to full service by no later than September when school starts,” Cragg said. “We would certainly like to do it sooner than that, but we need to have the bodies. We don’t want to overpromise a level of service and then not be able to deliver.”

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A Transit Windsor rider boards a bus on Lauzon Road on Tuesday, November 30, 2021.
A Transit Windsor rider boards a bus on Lauzon Road on Tuesday, November 30, 2021. Photo by Dan Janisse /Windsor Star

In terms of the rest of the city of Windsor’s services, there were a total of 85 vacancies that needed to be filled following the fallout of those former employees who chose not to receive their COVID-19 vaccination, said Vincenza Mihalo, the city’s executive director of human resources.

The large majority of those job postings have been within the city’s recreation department or community centers, she said.

“A lot of them were seasonal employees, so there is often an ongoing recruitment for that,” Mihalo said. “They are attendants, instructors and lifeguards. Some of those are summer positions.

“We do have a couple (vacancies) in other departments we are recruiting for, but the highest majority was in recreation.”

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Given how the city overall has 3,000 employees within numerous departments, the job openings are not a large number.

“Another area we are looking for (for workers) is at Huron Lodge,” Mihalo said. “PSWs and other health care workers. That is not anything related to COVID. There is always turnover there, so we are always looking for staff at Huron Lodge.”

Anyone looking for employment at the city, can check available openings online at citywindsor.ca under employment opportunities.

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