STC and McAllen Partnership Enables Training for City Buses
The city of McAllen Transit Department and South Texas College have announced the start of a new program within the college’s Commercial Truck License Institute dedicated to training drivers of public transit. STC says the start of the program is slated to begin in September to address the shortage of drivers in the city.
The city of McAllen Transit Department and South Texas College have announced the start of a new transit academy to address a severe driver shortage affecting the industry locally as well as nationwide.
Made possible through an interlocal agreement between the city and the college, and approved by city commissioners, STC will now offer training for prospective drivers of the city’s Metro Bus System.
McAllen donated a 2011 Gillig 35’ Low Floor transit bus to STC for one year at no cost to the college for all students entering the college’s new Commercial Truck License Institute – Bus Driving with Passenger Endorsement Course.
Metro McAllen will send candidates for training at the college, which is slated to begin in September.
“As an industry, transportation has really struggled to find drivers, but the people who are affected are those who depend on transit. It’s an important service we provide, and we really are excited about having the ability to take someone who is looking for a rewarding career and get the training they need with the right equipment for a career in public transit.”
“I want to emphasize how important it is, what we are doing today with regards to our partnerships…we are working to offer the best for our community, our students and the economic well-being of the region,” said STC president Ricardo J. Solis, Ph.D. “STC will train bus drivers for the city of McAllen, and all neighboring municipalities and school districts. This partnership will benefit the entire region.”
In the McAllen area, city leadership says there are currently eight vacancies available for drivers in the city and will be looking to fill at least 10 more positions in the coming year.
“I am so proud of this partnership with South Texas College, our local institute of higher education, to educate and train certified bus drivers for our community,” said McAllen Mayor Javier Villalobos. “Bus drivers are essential to help keep our economy moving, getting employees from home to work and back again. Bus drivers help our community be educated, by allowing our students to attend college, internships or other opportunities. Bus drivers keep our community growing and connected, helping young families to make it to their doctors’ appointments, the grocery store, or just to visit family. Bus drivers keep our community moving and thanks to our partner STC, we will soon have our next generation of McAllen bus drivers ready to go.”
Hugo Garza, a graduate of STC’s Commercial Driver’s License (CDL) program in 2016 said the college enabled him to move from a job in shipping and receiving into a new career as a bus driver for the city of McAllen.
“I like the fact that the job is always different. There is always someone new to meet or things to do, and it’s fun,” Garza said. “It’s a very worthwhile career choice for those looking to work as a driver for the city. It may be a challenge while you’re in training, but I think the benefits of entering a career as a driver are really worth it.”
Leaders with McAllen’s Transit Operations department acknowledged that the city has struggled to find and retain drivers, and the transportation industry as a whole is facing a severe driver shortage.
TransitCenter, a public transportation advocacy group which made national headlines, found that an increase in the number of retirements by aging drivers and difficulties recruiting and retaining new workers has resulted in over 200,000 bus driving job vacancies nationwide.
“As an industry, transportation has really struggled to find drivers, but the people who are affected are those who depend on transit,” said Mario Delgado, transit director with Metro McAllen. “It’s an important service we provide, and we really are excited about having the ability to take someone who is looking for a rewarding career and get the training they need with the right equipment for a career in public transit.”
STC is training drivers for the entire region. For more information or to register for STC’s CDL program students can visit www.southtexascollege.edu/cdl.