For Immediate Release
Contact: Ray Lee | (202) 207-5787
December 6, 2021
Ride-On Driver Shortage Has Reached Crisis Level
Union Blames Continued Salary Inequity Between WMATA, Ride-On
Gaithersburg, Md. – Montgomery County’s Ride-On bus service is short 75 drivers right now thanks to salary inequity between the Ride-On service and bus service operated by the Washington Metro Area Transit Authority (WMATA), said the union representing Ride-On’s drivers. The crisis could be exacerbated if any more drivers leave service, which is expected to happen if the salary inequity is not repaired. The County Executive’s office is seeking a special appropriation from the County Council to bump up salaries and address the recruitment and retention crisis.
UFCW Local 1994 MCGEO Special Assistant to the President Ray Lee, who had been a bus operator but now works for the union, points out that a market study they conducted on behalf of the drivers revealed significant wage deficiencies year-over-year when compared to WMATA’s bus operator pay schedule.
“Drivers are fed up,” said Lee. “They see their friends working the same basic job at Metro and want a similar wage package so they’re leaving. While many of them love working the routes of Ride-On, they know they deserve better than the meager pay they’re getting now. They risked their lives, never stopping work during the pandemic and serving Montgomery County’s transit users. This County needs to stop short-changing the operators.”
Currently, Ride-On has been unable to increase service to pre-covid levels because of the driver shortage and some routes may need to go out of service if vacancies continue to climb and remain unfilled. The special appropriation went before the Council on November 16 but is unclear when the Council will vote on it, leaving drivers and riders frustrated.
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Local 1994 represents 8,000 public employees in Montgomery County and beyond. From its inception, UFCW Local 1994 MCGEO has fought to protect workers’ rights, negotiate fair wages and protect safety and security of workers.