LAKE COUNTY, Ohio — Laketran is on the road to recovery as ridership steadily increases.
The transit agency ranked 32nd in a recent Federal Transit Administration report comparing the ridership recovery of 3,000 transit systems nationwide. The report compared ridership data from June 2019 to June 2021, showing a 67% ridership recovery.
"Laketran ridership for local fixed routes and door-to-door Dial-a-Ride service has recovered to about 80%-85% of our pre-pandemic ridership. The Park-n-Ride service is still below 40% of its 2019 ridership.
In response to the rebound, the public transit company is hosting two separate hiring events Tuesday and Wednesday with guaranteed interviews.
“With ridership going back up now, we're actually a little bit behind the curve trying to rehire to fill the jobs that we didn't fill through the pandemic,” said Laketran CEO Ben Capelle. “Instead of a person having to wonder, ‘will I get called? Will I not get called?’ They can come to get an interview right there and hopefully leave with a job..”
During the pandemic, Laketran went into a hiring freeze as ridership went down. Since restrictions have lifted and vaccines are widely available, the Lake County transit agency is looking to fill 22 positions.
Most of those positions are bus driver positions with 16 seats that need to be filled. Not all of the positions require a CDL and include at least six weeks of paid, on-the-job training.
“Whether you've driven a bus somewhere else or not, we have the way we want to do things that involves a very high level of customer service,” Capelle said. “ When you come in the door, you know, you can expect to be in training for that six weeks or more.”
Laketran is also searching to fill four diesel mechanic jobs and two-vehicle servicer positions, which come with $2,000 signing bonuses. Despite Laketran’s recent shift to electric buses, the skills still translate.
“A lot of a heavy truck or heavy bus mechanics skills transfer very equally to an electric bus," Capelle said. “A lot of the systems share a lot of similarities with diesel equipment.”
Jobs with the agency also include paid vacation, sick time, and retirement plans.
Ben Mordush was semi-retired when he took a job as a driver with Laketran nearly nine years ago. He now works as a customer outreach specialist. Mordush signed up as a para-transit driver for the dial-a-ride service and never imaged it would turn into a second career.
“I just loved every minute of it. I had tough days, but I never had a bad day,” Mordush said. “When I drove, I would pick up a customer that was my mother that I was escorting into that bus and to the doctor. That's my brother. That's my father that I'm taking. And that was the adage that is the attitude here.”
The hiring events are Tuesday, Oct. 26 from 2 p.m.-5 p.m. and Wednesday, Oct. 27 from 9 a.m.-12 p.m.
You can fill out an application when you arrive or download one online ahead of time.
Applicants will need to have a valid driver’s license and be able to pass a physical, background check and drug screening.
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