BC Transit recruiting drivers in Kelowna and other Okanagan communities as shortages impact some bus service levels

BC Transit needs drivers

Cindy White

BC Transit is looking for more bus drivers in the Okanagan.

In Kelowna, operating company First Transit is hosting a recruiting day on Thursday, January 27 at its headquarters at 1494 Hardy Street.

“From 10:00 a.m. to 2 p.m. and it’s at our location, our transit office on Hardy Street. People are welcome to come and bring your questions, bring your resume. As long as you’ve got a Class 5 license, then you can get moving forward, and our operating partner will train you. There’s an onboarding process. A training process to make sure that our new drivers are safe and ready to hit the road and support their communities,” said Jamie Weiss, senior media relations and public affairs advisor, BC Transit.

No previous transit experience is needed, and First Transit is looking for drivers in both the conventional and handyDART fleets. They offer competitive wages and flexible hours, and if someone is interested in a career with First Transit, they can get more information online here.

The pandemic has compounded a shortage of drivers across the region. Weiss said it’s not just in Kelowna that they’re hiring. They’re also recruiting drivers in Vernon, Penticton and other communities in the Okanagan.

The Omicron variant and the BC Transit vaccine mandate have also chipped away at staffing levels.

“We have transit operators that are maybe staying home if they’re not feeling well and that’s been our policy throughout the pandemic, along with the face-covering policy, enhanced bus and facility cleaning and now our vaccination mandate,” explained Weiss.

“I can tell you that the overwhelming majority of our employees and the employees or our operating partners have taken part in the vaccine mandate and done their part. A small number of drivers in some systems have decided to not continue employment and we’re just continuing to make sure that we provide reliable and safe service for our customers.”

He estimates the Kelowna Regional Transit System is down about 10 drivers right now.

The driver shortage has had an impact on some bus service levels, with a number of routes reverting to summer service levels.

Weiss points out BC Transit is continually trying to fill its ranks because older drivers are getting close to retirement and there’s an attrition rate.

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