Public Transportation Operators


Employment Prospects


There are approximately 681,400 bus drivers currently employed in the United States. About 73 percent are employed by a school system or a company that provides contract school bus service. The second largest group of bus drivers work for private and local transit systems, and the remainder work as intercity and charter drivers. There are approximately 10,730 subway and streetcar operators, located almost exclusively in major urban areas.

Starting Out

If you are interested in the field, you should directly contact public transportation companies as well as government and private employment agencies. Labor unions, such as the Amalgamated Transit Union, might know about available jobs. Positions for drivers can also be found in the classified section of the newspaper.

After completing the training program, new drivers often initially are given only special or temporary assignments—for example, substituting for a sick employee, driving an extra bus or rail car during commuter rush hours, or driving a charter bus to a sporting event. These new drivers may work for several years in these part-time, substitute positions before gaining enough seniority for a regular route.

Advancement Prospects

Advancement is usually measured by greater pay and better assignments or routes. For example, senior drivers or rail car operators may have routes with lighter traffic, weekends off, or higher pay rates. Although opportunities for promotion are limited, one option for advancement is to move into supervisory or training positions. Experienced drivers can become dispatchers (workers who assign drivers their bus or train route, determine whether buses or trains are running on time, and send out help when there is a breakdown or accident). Other managerial positions also exist. Experienced subway or streetcar operators, for example, may become station managers.

Tips for Entry

Read In Transit ( and Passenger Transport ( to learn more about the field. 

Conduct information interviews with public transportation operators and ask them for advice on preparing for and entering the field. 

Join the Transport Workers Union of America or the Amalgamated Transit Union to increase your chances of landing a job and receiving fair pay for your work.