King County Metro’s new programme aims to enhance driver recruitment and staff development

Posted: 2 January 2024 | | No comments yet

King County Metro’s innovative ‘Mentors Moving Metro’ programme pairs seasoned bus operators with new recruits, ensuring a seamless integration and comprehensive skill development beyond driving.

King County Metro's new programme aims to enhance driver recruitment and staff development

Credit: King County Metro

King County Metro has announced that it is taking a ground-breaking approach to driver recruitment and staff development with the launch of “Mentors Moving Metro,” a collaborative initiative with the Amalgamated Transit Union (ATU) 587.

The programme, designed to enhance the community’s transit experience, pairs experienced bus operators with new recruits to ensure a successful and seamless integration into the world of public transportation, lasting six to 12 months. 

“Nobody understands what it’s like to operate a bus better than those who have been in the seat,” said King County Metro General Manager Michelle Allison. “‘Mentors Moving Metro’ will pair new drivers with experienced operators who want to provide knowledge and support to the next generation. Being a bus driver is a great job and the mentors will welcome our newest ‘rolling ambassadors’ and set them up for success.”

The initiative goes beyond traditional driver training, recognising that being a bus operator involves various skills, including customer service and safety protocols. “Mentors Moving Metro” aims to provide comprehensive support, leveraging the wealth of experience held by veteran drivers to guide the next generation of bus operators.

King County Metro’s vision for a sustainable, inclusive and innovative commuting experience

Ken Price, President of ATU 587, highlighted the significance of hands-on experience, stating, “A mentorship programme for new transit operators will provide valuable support and knowledge based on the professional experience of seasoned operators.”

Inspired by successful mentorship programmes in transit agencies across North America, notably the Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority (RTA), the King County Metro initiative sets high expectations. RTA experienced a 36% increase in employee retention, a 30% decrease in absenteeism and a 50% decrease in late arrivals during the first two years of its programme.

Looking ahead, the goal is to provide a trained mentor to every new driver joining King County Metro. A dedicated team, appointed by Metro General Manager Michelle Allison and ATU 587 President Ken Price, will initiate the recruitment of mentors and mentees in early 2024.

As “Mentors Moving Metro” takes flight, King County Metro is not only expanding its operational capacity but also ensuring that each new driver receives the mentorship needed to excel in their role as community ambassadors on wheels.