Driving toward success: RTD bus operator training extended to 12-weeks

Camila Lacerda

RTD held its inaugural 12-week bus operator training with six operators graduating at the end of March. The training program was previously nine weeks in length and now extends to 12 weeks. The additional three weeks provide bus operators with more hands-on training across all divisions, including route familiarization and night driving. This training aims to familiarize students with protocols, procedures and equipment, ensuring that operators are well trained, safe and prepared to navigate the roads.

Corey Inman, Assistant Manager of Bus Operator Training, who began his career at RTD as a bus operator and has been with the agency for 11 years, elaborates on the training's content: "The training covers customer service skills, de-escalation techniques, knowledge of the fare system and schedules. Students learn how to navigate our various routes, applying what they learn in real-world scenarios to build confidence and enhance system efficiency."

"During each week at the division, students actually operate routes within that division. They operate between scheduled buses, picking up passengers along the way. This hands-on experience over three weeks prepares them for revenue service, so they already have a solid understanding of what to expect when they begin. They gain familiarity with the flow of operations and accumulate more practice in picking up and interacting with customers, thus improving their readiness for the job," said Ike Veiga, an instructor and bus operator.

Marissa Holmes and Mac Wortham are recent graduates from the 12-week training program. Holmes expresses her excitement about embarking on a new career path, seeking something different, and expressing her desire to drive the Evergreen-Denver route. On the other hand, Wortham notes his interest in taking on the Boulder route, emphasizing RTD’s excellent benefits. ”This is one job where you are actually compensated for your efforts. The more you invest in your career, the more opportunities become available. You just need to be committed to your career," he said. 

RTD is dedicated to supporting its employees and fostering their success through competitive pay and benefits, such as medical/dental insurances and retirement plans. Additionally, there are training and professional development opportunities provided by or paid by RTD. This commitment helps employee performance and creates a welcoming transit environment for employees, customers and community.

With six years of experience at RTD, Veiga offers advice for individuals considering applying, "Don't be nervous. The vehicles are big, but once you get behind the wheel and start operating it, they're actually pretty easy to drive and that nervousness starts going away the more you get behind the wheel and start getting comfortable with the vehicles.”

Candidates hired as bus operators receive a $4,000 signing bonus, paid training—including CDL training—and guidance through the permit process. Bus operators start at $25.96 per hour, and qualified candidates must possess a domestic driver’s license valid for at least two years. The bus operator role offers individuals a career path to retire from or pursue as a second career. It fulfills a crucial service for the community and aligns with the agency’s mission of enhancing lives through connection. RTD invests in its employees, providing training for future leadership roles within both RTD and the broader transit industry. For more details, please visit the careers webpage.

By Camila Lacerda