Mayor, DDOT & Bus Drivers union announce agreement to raise driver pay $3/hr, increase attendance bonus

  • Agreement brings starting base pay up to $19/hr and max base pay to $25/hr
  • Attendance bonus increased to maximum of $6,000 per year, bringing starting pay potential up to equivalent of $22/hr and potential max pay to equivalent of $28/hr
  • Overall increase is $8,000 per year for those achieving attendance bonus
  • Agreement being transmitted to city council this week for approval


Detroit Department of Transportation bus drivers will see an immediate $3 per hour wage increase under a new memorandum of understanding between the City and Amalgamated Transit Union Local 26 announced today by Mayor Mike Duggan, Interim Transit Director Michael Staley and union president Schetrone Collier. 

The increase would bring starting pay for new drivers up to $19.15 per hour from the current rate of $16.15 per hour. Maximum pay for those working for DDOT for at least four years will jump to $25.61 per hour from the current cap of $22.61

The agreement also increases quarterly attendance bonus from $1,000 a quarter to $1,500 a quarter, for every driver who has no more than 3 unexcused absences per quarter. In the 4th quarter of 2023, 76% of active drivers earned the attendance bonus.

The current collective bargaining agreement does not expire until July 1, 2025, but Mayor Duggan said he reopened the contract 18 months early to give the drivers a well-deserved raise.  “This is equivalent to an $8,000 a year pay raise for the great majority of our operators who earn the attendance bonus,” Mayor Duggan said. “This raise is well-deserved.” 

All other provisions of the contract remain unchanged.

The effect of the contract change on the hourly rate:

                                              Current Rate           New Rate           Current Rate with                New rate with

                                                                                                                       attendance bonus               attendance bonus

Starting driver                           $16.15                        $19.15                           $18.07                                     $22.03

Maximum rate (4 years)         $22.61                       $25.61                          $24.53                                     $28.49

The Mayor said his office will formally transmit the agreement to City Council by the end of this week for its approval. Once approved, the increases will take immediate effect.

Raises to bolster hiring, retention efforts

In recent months, DDOT has significantly increased its hiring efforts, going from classes of 10-15 new drivers at a time to classes of 30, 40 or 50 at a time.  A class of 30 new drivers will graduate tomorrow and another class of approximately 45 will graduate in early February, all of which will help DDOT to increase its service levels.  DDOT currently has about 400 drivers with a goal of having 600 drivers on the road by the end of this year.

“An immediate $3 per hour increase in pay with the ability to earn up to $6,000 more per year is going to do two things for us. It’s going to help us retain the drivers we have and it's going to be a tremendous boost to our recruitment efforts,” said Interim Transit Director Michael Staley. “The one thing we’ve heard consistently from drivers and transit advocates is that we needed to increase bus driver pay. We have said we would because our drivers deserve it and now we have.”

Anyone interested in becoming a DDOT driver is encouraged to

Amalgamated Transit Union Local 26 President Schetrone Collier, who represents DDOT equipment operators, said he appreciates the administration’s willingness to offer a significant wage increase to his members a year and a half before the current contract expires.

"This is a great day for DDOT.  I drove for DDOT for 34 years and know how important this wage increase is for our drivers,” said President Collier. “But this is just as much for the public as it is our drivers. This increase will help us hire and retain more drivers, so the public can know when they are at a stop and need to get to work or the doctor, DDOT is going to show up when we are supposed to.  That’s everyone’s goal.”

In 2021, DDOT drivers approved their first new contract since being without one since 2018. That contract raised starting pay from $12.99 per hour to $15 per hour, along with 2.5% annual raises for four years.  The drivers will still receive the previously agreed upon cost-of-living increases in the current collective bargaining agreement, which ends June 30, 2025. In 2022, Mayor Duggan announced the $1,000-per-quarter incentive that allowed drivers to earn an additional $4,000 per year based on their attendance.