PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — As the labor shortage continues, TriMet is upping its game and offering newly hired bus operators a $3,500 bonus.

The agency announced that the hiring bonus will start on March 28. This is a $1,000 increase in the hiring bonus TriMet has been offering since September 2021 to combat the crippling staff shortage.

KOIN 6 News reported on that bonus update last month.

A TriMet spokesperson said that at the beginning of the pandemic, the agency was forced to temporarily pause its bus operator training program while the agency worked to adapt to new social distancing guidelines and health and safety regulations.

TriMet told KOIN 6 News that it had 1,176 bus operators ((941 full-time and 235 part-time) in December of 2021. A drop in the number of drivers was reported in December of 2020, which showed 1,272 bus operators (1,026 full-time and 246 part-time).

On top of a hiring bonus, TriMet said they have increased starting pay for new operators to $21.84 an hour and have partnered with Amalgamated Transit Union (ATU) 757 to remove potential employment barriers.

TriMet is currently offering potential new hires, CDL training, annual transit passes, fitness center discounts, as well as medical, dental and vision benefits for both full and part-time workers.

For more information, learn more here.