The Port Authority needs 100 new bus drivers and about 50 maintenance workers.By Meghan Schiller

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — The Port Authority wants to get people behind the wheel and into its maintenance garages.

Just like schools districts, the Port Authority faces a serious bus driver shortage. In addition to helping Pittsburghers get around, the Port Authority needs to drive another 1,000 school students to class.

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The Port Authority needs 100 new bus drivers and about 50 maintenance workers. The agency is hosting a massive job fair on Friday.

“The job fair tomorrow is at 10 a.m. at 304 Wood Street. … They’re doing all the COVID protocols so we’re going to be doing groups of about 75 or 80 people and we already have about 100 people signed up,” said Port Authority spokesperson Adam Brandolph.

Brandolph wants people to know that the Port Authority will get a person fully trained and behind the wheel within 18 months.

“We’re not offering incentives, but most of our positions start about $21, $22 dollars an hour. Benefits are incredible and there’s an opportunity for overtime almost immediately,” Brandolph said.

The job fair comes at a time when 1,028 Pittsburgh Public Schools students will transition from yellow buses to Port Authority buses, joining already nearly 5,000 people who already use them.

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But it’s not an option for all parents.

“After our daughter attended Liberty Elementary for four years, we had to withdraw her today and enroll her in a different school,” said Patrice Wiktorzewski.

Wiktorzewski will now send her daughter to a new school, one that can get a bus to her street since her old school could not.

“She had a bus route, but there was no bus driver or bus company that had been chartered or hired to run that route yet,” Wiktorzewski said.

Even though she’d qualify to “release” her daughter’s seat and get cash to drive her, Wiktorzewski and her husband both work full time.

“They offered us a Port Authority Connect Card, but she’s 9 years old and she travels from the West End to East End. That’s an hour-plus school bus ride, so I can only imagine how long it would be on a Port Authority bus and there would be a transfer. And that just wasn’t an option for us,” Wiktorzewski said.

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Pittsburgh Public Schools said about 300 students fall into the “seat gap” and 126 students “released their seats.”

Meghan Schiller