CARTA bus drivers will be getting almost a $3 per hour pay increase under terms of a new three-year contract between the transit agency and Local 1212 of the Amalgamated Transit Union.
Lakecha Strickland, union president, said starting pay will be going from $17.32 an hour to $20.15 for new drivers.
After a year, the pay rises to $21.80 and after two years to $23.70.
Also, drivers who have topped out will get a $1,000 lump sum payment.
Part-time Care-A-Van drivers will make $18 per hour.
The pay increase is retroactive to July 1.
Ms. Strickland said she is still striving for improved hazard pay for the drivers.
A new holiday for the drivers will be Juneteenth.
The contract was approved 47-0 by local union members.
CARTA's Jeff Smith said the agency is down to 81 full-time bus drivers and three part-time. And there are eight out on workers comp, five have long-term illnesses and two are in training.
Mr. Smith said a full contingency of drivers would be in the mid-80s.
There have been 63 CARTA personnel who have gotten the COVID-19 virus, including two currently.
Lisa Maragnano, CARTA executive director, said three more CARTA employees have gotten vaccinated.
She said the agency offers $100 gift cards to those who do.
Ms. Maragnano said CARTA ridership numbers are starting to rise - even after reimposing a charge after 18 months with no fee.
"It means things are coming back to life downtown," she said.
Ridership is also up on the Incline Railway, though it is still at 75 percent capacity due to the virus situation.
Masks continue to be required on all CARTA vehicles.
Ernie Hedgecorth is leaving the CARTA board after over 20 years. His last meeting will be next month on Oct. 28.