Tahoe transit board approves raise to retain workers

Tahoe transit board approves raise to retain workers
A Tahoe Transportation District bus stop. Image: Farrel Shine / TTD

STATELINE–Tahoe Transportation District’s board of directors this month approved a $4 per hour wage increase for some of its staff in an effort to retain workers in an increasingly challenging time for the transit industry.

TTD officials said the pay increase was necessary to retain drivers and limit further route cancelations. Among those cancelations was the popular East Shore Express, a seasonal shuttle connecting Incline Village with Sand Harbor.

“This increase has been a long-time coming and I’m grateful for the board’s support in our efforts to reward the staff that’s gotten us through the most difficult years this community has ever seen,” said TTD Manager Carl Hasty.

TTD has also been offering a $3,000 sign-on bonus for new drivers in a bid to fill some of its open positions.

One of the challenges to finding and keeping staff, Hasty said, was the high cost of living in the Lake Tahoe Basin, where TTD services an estimated 800,000 commuters, seasonal shuttle and paratransit riders per year.

“While the nation continues to face staffing shortages, Tahoe’s in an even more difficult situation with housing availability at an all-time low,” Hasty said. “This is the least we can do for our incredible staff who’s sticking with us to serve the people of South Shore and the Carson Valley.”

TTD’s decision was praised by members of Teamsters Local 533, which represents the workers.

“It’s organizations like TTD that are truly looking out for their employees, as well as the community they serve,” said the Teamsters’ Chris Fuqua.

Transit authorities in both of Nevada’s metropolitan areas have faced similar challenges with staffing.

In September southern Nevada’s Regional Transportation Commission warned of a number of service delays amid a nearly 200-person staffing shortage.

For now, that challenge seems to have resolved. As of Dec. 9, no open positions were advertised by RTC Southern Nevada bus operator Keolis North America. Fifty drivers are still needed for the region’s paratransit services, however.

In Reno, where Keolis also operates buses for Regional Transportation Commission of Washoe County, new drivers are being offered a $2,000 sign-on bonus. The northern Nevada driver shortage was one of the factors in a series of strikes by Teamsters members against Keolis over the summer and fall. Union President Gary Watson estimates a nearly 100-driver shortage in Washoe County.