As Thunder Bay bus drivers continue on the road to retirement, the city’s transit system finds itself constantly driving its recruitment efforts to find their replacements.
Many of its drivers are baby boomers, and about 10 per cent are retiring each year.
City of Thunder Bay fleet-trainer Arja Tiitto said teaching new recruits to drive a bus takes about a week.
"It totally depends on their driving experience previously," she said. "But, I would say, [for] somebody who's never driven a bus before [it would take] 40 to 60 hours. It's a two stage process — then we put them with regular drivers so that they're actually picking up passengers, and learning the scheduling."
Tiitto added that, although driving is important, transit has a new focus on customer service.
Having good people skills is a necessity, according to Doug Glena, a supervisor and trainer at Thunder Bay Transit.
"Let's face it. We move all kinds of people throughout the day," he said. "The population in Thunder Bay has changed. The demographics have changed so much and our ridership is very diverse."
Thunder Bay Transit has 115 employees — 10 of whom are part-time workers.
Officials say they will keep hiring new employees, to keep pace with a high retirement rate. The latest hiring closed this week, but they said more will soon be hired.
Interested candidates are encouraged to go online to Thunderbay.ca, where there is a form under the hiring section. It’s a self-assessment quiz that can help people determine if they would be suitable bus drivers.