The following article was published by Newstalk 94.1 and can be found hereThe pay increase is effective July 1, 2024. 

Base pay for UCHRA Public Transportation drivers has been bumped up to $14 per hour after a vote from the Executive Board.

Transportation Director Holly Montooth said drivers with their CDL can receive up to $15 an hour. She said additional incentives are also available for drivers willing to work later in the evening. Montooth said the raises are a big step in the right direction, but not the last.

“Nobody’s going to get rich in the public service sector,” Montooth said. “So, you really have to have that true servant’s heart and when I look around and I go outside and I meet the drivers, they’re constantly giving me stories of how appreciative our riders are.”

Montooth said the drivers are the lifeblood of the agency. She said she encourages anyone interested in joining the team to apply online, over the phone, or at their local UCHRA office.

“We take walk-ins all the time and you can do that at any of your 14 county offices or you can come to the central office here in Cookeville,” Montooth said.

She said for many riders, their driver may be the only person they interact with in a day. She said building those relationships has been extremely meaningful to passengers.

“They really become to know them personally,” Montooth said. “And they take a vested interest in how they’re doing and making sure that they’re okay.”

She said some people ride the bus just for the conversation with the driver and other passengers. She said without willing, quality drivers, none of that would be possible.