BCRTA invites people to get behind wheel to ‘test drive’ career

Credit: Nick Graham

Credit: Nick Graham

The Butler County Regional Transit Authority is inviting prospective employees to “test drive” their future careers during a behind-the-wheel career event this weekend where they are hoping to find about 30 new drivers.

BCRTA is holding its first-ever job fair where potential employees can hop behind the wheel of a bus and “test drive” their future career. The one-stop hiring event is on Saturday at the Butler Tech Bioscience Center in West Chester Twp. from 8 a.m.-2 p.m. Job seekers can fill out an application, drive a real bus, be interviewed, and get hired on the spot.

BCRTA officials say they offer competitive wages, flexible schedules, a full benefits package, 29 PTO days and a generous retirement fund.

“This is new, we’re doing this because we still really need some people,” BCRTA Executive Director Matt Dutkevicz told the Journal-News. “We’re doing okay, but we were about 65% to 70% staffed in February. We’re making it work, but it’s overtime.”

He said they are borrowing the idea from transit agencies in Dayton and Akron and his people even went to a job fair in Akron to get pointers. He noted the event is insurance company-approved. He said they are self-insured, got guidance as a member of the Ohio Transit Risk Insurance Pool. He said the purpose is “to just give people a flavor for it.”

Working with the OTRIP they were able to “some guidelines around it to make sure we were controlling everything, it’s a closed course, everything’s covered, there’s going to be a trainer on the bus, there’s a brief little training before they get an opportunity to drive the bus, it’ll be pretty slow speed.”

Dutkevicz said they hope to hire 20 to 30 new people — they’ve had almost 15 people sign up for the event thus far — so they need to talk to about 100 people. He said they would like people to sign up on their website ahead of time but they don’t have to.

Butler County Development Director David Fehr, who is on the BCRTA board, said they need to maintain staffing levels or they will lose customers. He said they are particularly having issues with the Uber-type BGo on-demand service.

“They are having to refuse rides because we don’t have enough drivers,” Fehr said. “If you’re one of the recipients trying to get transportation I’d say it’s a pretty big issue, especially if it’s a medical appointment. Our fear is if people keep calling and are not provided rides because we don’t have enough drivers, eventually they quit calling you.”

They also need new drivers for the new route from Middletown to downtown Cincinnati they hope to launch in the fall. They currently pay Cincinnati Metro to run the 42X route from West Chester Twp. to downtown and they are taking over and expanding that route with the city of Middletown’s bus service.

The new route is part of BCRTA’s first-ever comprehensive transit plan, which is in the final stages. Dutkevicz said their consultant is nearly finished with the final draft of the plan and the board will have a retreat in June to formally adopt it.

The plan makes immediate and near-term recommendations to improve the system. It identifies new and improved routes, identifies bus stop enhancements and funding and financing strategies.

Some of the significant service improvements include:

  • Regional transit service to Hamilton County from Middletown and West Chester, including uptown and downtown Cincinnati stops;
  • Additional service on the east and west sides of Hamilton;
  • Changes in Oxford to improve frequency and reduce one-way loops;
  • Improvements to micro transit offerings in areas not served by fixed routes.

BCRTA embarked on a study two years ago when they asked the public to give them input on potential service improvements. Last year their consultant compiled the data and incorporated it in a new survey that had interactive maps — people could comment on the proposed routes and suggest new ones — a written survey and more focus groups.

In all they collected 1,100-plus surveys, 120 interactive map comments and held 11 group discussions.

Funding was not a big focus for the early steps in the process but there was a question on the survey that asked participants if they would support a small sales tax hike to help fund the operation. Most of the large transit systems utilize sales tax to fund their operations. BCRTA’s system is funded by federal funding/grants and contributions from Miami University.

Funding will be a retreat topic for the board but Fehr said “at least in the near term there’s no discussion about sales tax.”

After this long and comprehensive study Dutkevicz said, “I expect we’ll have a new strategic plan they will adopt this fall.”

How to go

The hiring event will be 8 a.m.-2 p.m. Saturday at the Butler Tech Bioscience Center, 8450 Capstone Blvd. in West Chester Twp. Walk-in interviews will be conducted all day, and a valid driver’s license is required. Applicants who wish to secure an appointment can do so by applying online. For more information, visit www.butlercountyrta.com.

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