The Chautauqua County Legislature will vote Wednesday on a proposal to raise wages for CARTS bus drivers. County Public Facilities Director Brad Bentley said CARTS is having difficulty attracting new bus drivers and believes the starting wage of $14.44 an hour is part of the issue, “And we require a CDL with a passenger endorsement to be a bus driver, so we have some pretty large requirements and we’re only paying that. So our proposal is to start the bus drivers at Grade 4, Step 3 which is $16.66 an hour. That’s for all bus drivers whether they are substitute or partial full-time drivers.”
Bentley said the substitute drivers would remain at that $16.66 an hour rate while the partial full-time employees will have the ability to see wage increases. He said the financial impact will be $100,000 on the operating budget but that CARES Act funding will help this year with reimbursements from New York State possible in the future.
Bentley said the alternative is to cut services, which has already happened in Dunkirk, “CARTS is not something that I would recommend cutting services on. We take people to their doctor appointments, dialysis appointments, we get them to work. It’s the only public transportation system out there. We do it at a very low cost.”
If passed, the pay raise would take effect the beginning of the Third Quarter.
CARTS will resume Saturday service starting July 3rd in the Jamestown, Falconer, Celoron, Lakewood and Dunkirk Areas.
The Lakewood via Fairmount route will run every 45 minutes, the first run will leave the Jamestown Junction at 8 a.m. and the last run will leave the Junction at 5 p.m. every Saturday.
The Willard/Foote Route will also run every 45 minutes the first run will leave the Jamestown Junction at 8 a.m. and the last run will leave the Junction at 5 p.m. every Saturday.
The Falconer Route and the North Main/Baker Route will run opposite each other.
Public Facilities Director Brad Bentley said “Pre-COVID, CARTS Saturday Service was well received and utilized. It is important that we restart Saturday Fixed Route Service as businesses and events return to their normal levels. In addition, CARTS is currently working on more improvements which are expected to be announced later this year.”