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Tribune: CTA Bus Drivers' Pay Ranks Third Nationally

By Marcus Gilmer in News on Mar 8, 2010 4:00PM

Photo by TheeErin
This morning, the Tribune's Jon Hilkevitch reports that the highest pay for CTA bus drivers ranks third in the nation at $28.64 per hour and, when adjusted for the city's cost of living, comes in first. The top bus driver pay in the nation goes to Boston's MBTA at $30.18 an hour; New York comes in sixth overall at $27.99 an hour. Top pay for Pace drivers is $24.93 an hour, 17th overall. The report comes at a time when the CTA is trying to draw the CTA unions to the negotiating table to reconfigure contracts in an effort to save the city money. (The current contract runs through 2011.) Hilkevitch reports:

CTA officials said they cannot restore service that was cut on Feb. 7 or hire back any of the 1,059 laid-off transit workers, unless the union agrees to give up this year's 3.5 percent salary increase and accept 10 unpaid furlough days, as well as possibly accept other concessions to erase a projected $95.6 million budget deficit. More than 900 of the laid-off workers are bus drivers, bus mechanics and bus cleaners.

Union leaders have refused to consider management's proposals, saying their members have bailed out the CTA in the past and that the union has a duty to protect the middle-class lifestyle of CTA workers. In addition, union leaders say the CTA cannot count on its labor force as a cash machine in difficult times.

Keep in mind, Chicago is the third largest city in the nation and has the third largest bus ridership in the nation, according to a report last year from the American Public Transportation Association [PDF, hat tip to Scott Smith], and that having the third highest paid bus drivers would seem to follow - and this new report lists the highest paid rates, not the average rates. Still, we're sure the new report will surely touch a nerve, especially in the wake of the recent service cuts.