ST. PAUL, Minn. (WCCO)– Carlita Jones braved the cold weather and a long line to get here.

She already has a job as a personal care attendant, but wants a second one and driving is something she likes to do.

“I’ve been driving all my life ever since I was 16. I’m not going to tell you how many years ago! That’s one thing I enjoy. I drive all the time,” said Jones.

Jones was one of hundreds who came to Metro Transit’s One Day Hiring Event in St. Paul on Saturday.

Applicants were able to take a test, complete an interview and drug screening, and receive a conditional offer over the course of a few hours. This streamlines a process that can take weeks or months.

“We’ve had big testing events, but at those events…people would take an assessment test, but then we had to wait for scores to come back,” said Metro Transit Bus Deputy Chief Operations Officer Brian Funk.

It’s all an attempt to eliminate a persistent shortage of bus drivers.

Applicants must have 5 years of driving experience, a three-year clean background check, and a high school diploma or GED.

If they’re hired, new employees are offered a starting wage of $20.44 an hour and at least 30 hours of work a week.

They’ll also receive a state pension, a $1,000 hiring bonus, and paid training.

“We’ll bring you in. We will help you get your permit for your commercial license and we will do training. You can get licensed before you start operating and carrying customers,” said Funk.

Metro Transit hoped to hire up to 100 people on Saturday, with similar events planned for the future.

When construction is complete, the Southwest Light Rail will create more than 60 train operator jobs. In order to operate a train, you need to work as a bus driver first. If that is your ultimate goal, Funk says starting on as a bus driver is a good first step.

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