MARTA recruiting bus drivers with “excellent customer service skills”

By David Pendered

MARTA is beginning the New Year with a job fair to hire full-time bus operators.

MARTA's advertisement for bus drivers emphasizes customer service. Credit: MARTA

MARTA’s advertisement for bus drivers emphasizes customer service. Credit: MARTA

The jobs provide benefits and pay from $13.68 to $19.54 an hour. The jobs fair, for an unspecified number of drivers, is slated from 9 a.m. to noon on Saturday at MARTA’s headquarters, located adjacent to the Lindbergh Station.

The hiring program is part of MARTA’s focus on restoring levels of customer service that were trimmed to meet the financial rigors of the Great Recession. MARTA GM Keith Parker has made it clear that MARTA must appeal to riders who have the choice of using the system or driving their own vehicle.

For this jobs fair, the attention to customer service is evident in the first sentence of a flyer:

  • “MARTA is currently recruiting for professional, customer focused full-time bus operators.”

Requirements include the customary commercial drivers license and, in a twist, adds a special call for customer service: Applicants must pass a customer service test.

Parker at GRTA

MARTA GM Keith Parker meets Riverdale Mayor Evelyn Winn-Dixon as a crowd gathers to greet Parker after he addressed GRTA’s board in January 2013. File/Credit: Donita Pendered

The final item of the section on requirements states:

  • “Excellent customer service skills a must!”

To ensure that the message isn’t overlooked, the attention on customer service continues in a sidebar column that includes this message:

  • “Professional/business attire is required at this job fair.”

More information is available at MARTA’s website. Applicants can jump start the process by completing a profile on MARTA’s career site. Applicants who meet requirements should be prepared to spend up to four hours interviewing with a MARTA official on Saturday.

Applicants are to bring the following items to the job fair:

  • Valid Class “B” commercial driver’s license or CDL permit;
  • An original 5 year to 7 year motor vehicle report;
  • High school diploma or equivalent;
  • Document verifying your eligibility to work in the U.S. (i.e. Birth Certificate or social security card or U.S. passport);
  • A resume with a valid telephone number and e-mail address.

Parker arrived at MARTA a year ago at a dim time in the system’s history. He immediately embraced results of a KPMG management study that had been conducted by his predecessor. Parker also brought his own leadership skills to bear.

Parker made a good impression among regional leaders by scheduling a presentation to the board that oversees the Georgia Regional Transportation Authority. He was the lunch speaker at a meeting of the DeKalb County Chamber of Commerce. Parker even appeared at a Labor Day celebration of Georgia Stand-Up, whose members represent the rank-and-file workers who maintain, and use, the transit system.

Parker has consistently contended that MARTA must cut costs and increase revenues to balance its budget.

The revenue side of the equation seems to have caught his attention, as he’s initiated efforts to build transit oriented developments at rail stations in neighborhoods well positioned for future growth. The hiring of bus drivers is part of the effort to boost ridership, and its associated revenue.

On the expense side of the budget, the KPMG management study of MARTA that showed labor costs strain the transit system. According to the report, labor costs represent about 77 percent of MARTA’s operating budget. The report stated that MARTA could realize significant savings through a program of privatization and benefits reduction:

  • Up to $50 million a year in legacy pension plans, healthcare, retirement, absentee and workers compensation;
  • From $60 million to $142 million over five years by outsourcing jobs that are deemed non-core to MARTA’s mission.

 

David Pendered, Managing Editor, is an Atlanta journalist with more than 30 years experience reporting on the region’s urban affairs, from Atlanta City Hall to the state Capitol. Since 2008, he has written for print and digital publications, and advised on media and governmental affairs. Previously, he spent more than 26 years with The Atlanta Journal-Constitution and won awards for his coverage of schools and urban development. David graduated from North Carolina State University and was a Western Knight Center Fellow. David was born in Pennsylvania, grew up in North Carolina and is married to a fifth-generation Atlantan.

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