Mayor, DDOT announce proposal to allow bus drivers to earn up to $4,000 per year in bonuses

Mayor, DDOT announce proposal to allow bus drivers to earn up to $4,000 per year in bonuses

  • Drivers can earn $1,000 per quarter if they meet minimum job attendance milestones
  • Proposal to be considered this week by City Council for approval
  • Bus driver incentives also was strongly supported in recent community engagement meetings

DETROIT – All Department of Transportation bus drivers would be eligible to earn up to $4,000 per year in bonuses if they meet minimum attendance requirements under a proposal announced today by Mayor Mike Duggan, DDOT leadership and the head of the bus driver’s union.

With many transit agencies, including DDOT, struggling with worker attendance issues and retaining front-line employees, the city has submitted a Memorandum of Understanding to City Council that would amend the current collective bargaining agreement with ATU Local 26 to allow bus drivers to earn a $1,000 bonus every quarter if they are at work and on the job a minimum of 480 hours that quarter.

The estimated cost of the incentive would be up to $2 million, which would come from existing revenues.  If approved by City Council, the MOU would be in effect for one year, starting July 1st.  At that point, it would be evaluated to determine whether to continue the incentive or to modify it.

Last March, the city announced a new contract for bus drivers that included their first raise in three years, bringing the minimum salary up to $15 per hour and providing a one-time $1,000 bonus.  Under the new contract, drivers also receive annual 2.5% pay increases each year of the four-year contract.

“We have worked to steadily increase the base pay for our bus drivers, who have been among our most important front-line workers since the start of the pandemic,” said Mayor Duggan. “This is one way we can thank them for their dedication and provide a real incentive for them to show up regularly for work, because the service our riders receive directly depends on them.”

Drivers who fall below the 480 hours worked in a quarter, or who miss three scheduled shifts, will not be eligible for a bonus in that quarter.  However, they get a fresh start at the beginning of the next quarter to work to qualify for the next bonus opportunity.

“We felt that doing this on a quarterly basis, as opposed to an annual basis, was fair and made sense,” said Executive Director of Transit, Mikel Oglesby. “We understand that circumstances may arise that makes a driver ineligible for a bonus at some point, but we want them to know there is another opportunity just around the corner.”

Shetrone Collier, President-elect of Amalgamated Transit Union Local 26, expressed his excitement and support for the proposed bonus incentive. "These types of bonuses are essential, because coming out of the pandemic, you have to compete for employees. I have spent my whole career trying to get parity with the other systems in the region and now with the last contract plus these bonuses, we're getting close."

Community Support

The performance bonus is something that received widespread support during a series of recent community engagement meetings conducted by DDOT to learn more about transit users’ wishes and priorities.

“Giving our bus drivers bonuses was one of the things we heard most from our customers,” said Oglesby.  “It was encouraging to know that we were all on the same page in that respect, and to know how much support there is in the transit community for our drivers.”