By Reg Chapman

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – As commuters return to the Twin Cities, Metro Transit is looking to hire more than 70 bus drivers.

Metro Transit is offering a $1,000 bonus to people who complete the training and work on one of the many routes commuters are expected to return to in the next few months.

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Lisa Burt is learning her new route in preparation of meeting returning riders aboard her bus. Her new job is much different than her previous job of driving a shuttle at the airport.

“It’s going to give me another challenge and more scenery so it’s not the same thing all the time,” Burt said.

Burt is part of Metro Transit’s push to add drivers to the team.

Donathan Brown, who works with Metro Transit, says drivers come from all walks of life. Some have master’s degrees, others a high school diploma, but all posses the same qualities.

“The perfect bus operator is a person who has a customer service focus but also wants to serve their community,” Brown said.

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Currently, buses are running on a reduced weekly schedule but with offices expected to open in downtown Minneapolis and St. Paul soon, more express service from the suburbs is expected as well as expanded routes in the cities.

For Burt, this is the perfect time for her to change to a career with the possibility of advancement.

“I’ve met bus drivers that are perfectly nice and nobody complained to me and I know they have great benefits,” Burt said.

She has her heart set on driving for a time then advancing to dispatch. Others move from bus to train operator. Some even move on to management.

“Regardless of where you start, the sky is the limit for where you end. It’s all about our ability to learn and adapt,” said Brown.

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Metro Transit is hosting a driver hiring event on Saturday. New drivers can earn between $20 and $29 an hour. They hope to have a full compliment of drivers by late September or early October.

Reg Chapman