A suggestion from a deacon at his church created a lifelong career for Robert Pratt. It was 22 years ago that the deacon advised Pratt to consider applying to Metro Transit for a job as a bus driver.
“I had never driven a bus before, but I filled out the application and they called me for an interview. Next thing I was behind the wheel,” recalled Pratt.
His first time on the job followed a month of training and instruction to prepare him for the work. It’s since become a career that has been as fulfilling as it is lucrative.
With his ever-present smile and warm manner, Pratt has become a friendly part of the ride for many Metro Transit passengers. He’s come to take great pride in going the extra mile for them.
“I have three kids at home all pulling Daddy in a different direction, but the salary is good. It pays for a home, my car, saving for my kids’ college,” said Pratt. “It’s a good feeling to help people get where they need to go. They count on us and we take care of the community.”
Right now, Metro Transit is looking to hire the next group of drivers through the upcoming Drive the Bus Hiring Event. It will be held Saturday, Feb. 4 from 9 am to noon at the new North Loop garage, 600 8th Ave. N. in Minneapolis.
That’s where applicants can learn about the positions that offer benefits, including health care and a pension plan. New operators are paid while they train and earn $26.16 per hour as they begin. The hourly wage jumps to $27.80 per hour after the first year and the salary continues to increase. Metro Transit is also offering up to a $5,000 sign-on bonus for applicants who get hired.
Attendees at the hiring event will be able to apply and interview on the spot and even test drive a 40’ Metro Transit bus. While no experience is required, applicants must have and bring a valid driver’s license and have been an active driver for the past five years.
Applicants interested in careers as bus mechanics or with Metro Transit police can visit career informational booths at the Feb. 4 event. Both are hiring for positions within their divisions.
Parking is free, with attendees directed to park in the ramp adjacent to the North Loop Garage. For those who want to take transit to the event, the address is served by routes 5, 9, 22 and the METRO C Line and D Line.
For the event on Saturday, applicants may want to bring their families. A coloring table and a yard game will be set up to occupy children who come along, and “Skip Traffic,” Metro Transit’s mascot, will make an appearance. Light refreshments will be served.
Pratt has been able to advance in his career. Now he also works as a trainer, making him a driving force in preparing new drivers to get behind the wheel. (In fact, many Metro Transit managers started as bus drivers).
“It’s a good feeling, seeing people I trained doing a good job and earning a good salary. I take joy in that,” he said.
At Pratt’s urging, two of his cousins have become bus drivers, too. He notes that in many African American families, there is a legacy of service as bus drivers and there is deep community appreciation for the profession.
“Everyone knows someone who drove a bus. At Metro Transit we have a great family atmosphere, not just with blood relatives, but also with the other drivers.
“We’re like family,” he said. “I would say to anyone, this is a great occupation.”
For more info on the Drive the Bus hiring event, go to www.metrotransit.org/drive-the-bus.
Those who want to get a jump on the application process can apply online in