How Bus Operators Can Go To College For Free

I remember when I was growing up one of the biggest shocks to me was just how expensive college was. I remember standing in the registration line back in 2008, it was so cool. I and hundreds of other 18 years stood and waited, and were excited about building our future. 

Then reality hit.

College is expensive.

Trade school is expensive.

Acquiring any sort of skill is expensive, and will more than likely put you in some form of debt before you have a real job.

But I went for it, and a semester or two later, like a lot of kids, I realized this isn’t for me.

I was a cashier at a supermarket at that time, making about $5.40 an hour and though I didn’t have a college degree the basic math I did know let me know that there was no way I was going to sustain this over the next four years.

So I remained in the workforce and landed a cool opportunity driving the bus for MTA.

In addition to the free CDL and great money I made, I came across this wonderful little gem that I wished transit leveraged more in recruiting called

Tuition Reimbursement

Here’s how it works in a nutshell. The transit company will pay for your college if you agree to drive the bus for a little bit and get a degree that would help you advance in the company.

Now, this degree may come with a few terms, but nothing too crazy. If we’re being honest everything comes with some sort of terms and conditions. My free CDL came with a one-year agreement. After that, I could do whatever the hell I wanted. It’s literally a free asset if you leverage your time right, and below I will tell you exactly how to do it.

 Join Supir

One of the benefits of applying with us as opposed to Indeed or other recruiters is that our agents are just that. Our Agents, work with multiple agencies and employers in an effort to you get the opportunity you want. If your long-term goal is a business career, we’ll find the agency for you that will help you get there. Standard recruiters have quotas and pressure to fill seats, Supir doesn’t work like that. Our goal isn’t to sell you 30 years of driving the bus, our goal is to show you how driving the bus is the first stop in your career, not your last. 

Get Familiar With The Gig

(Pay $40,000-$45,000. Timeline: 18 Months)

Once we connect you with an agency that will help you achieve your goals, Now comes the “paying your dues” part. Upon getting a transit job, enjoy the free CDL. I know I keep mentioning that, but it’s super important, and here’s why. A CDL is another business or career asset. You’ll never be without a source of income with a CDL and that’s a promise. Even if you have to scrape a few pennies and do a few jobs you don’t like in between jobs or career paths, you will never be without options with a CDL. Robots aren’t taking over our industry anytime soon. 

After you finish paid training, take about a year to get used to the way transit works. The way the job feels and impacts your body. Learn the system, industry, and its nuances. Keep in mind, you don’t have to “like it” per se. This is an investment in you and your future, and sometimes investments take time and patience. Take a year to make a few bucks, learn the job and adjust to the new lifestyle. Stay away from accumulating big debts like car loans. They’ll force you to have to work harder and longer, we don’t want that right now. 

Take The Courses

(Pay $45,000-$60,000 Timeline 4-5 years)

A lot of people shoot down the way transit scheduling works for rookies. In the beginning, you will be stuck with the “bad shifts” that are just the culture of our industry. However, the leverage is in these bad shifts! The shifts get better with time but consider we aren’t here to have great hours for the next 30 years we are here to leverage the transit platform to climb the ladder. 

I got a free ride to Morgan State University(Transportation Studies) because I was willing to do the late-night #64. I agreed to work 5 pm-1 am because it allowed me to go to class from 8 am-12:30 pm. Not to mention working late at night, your layovers (time the bus is sitting waiting to go the other direction) are much longer, and quiet, super easy to go over notes and review course stuff.

Late shifts and split shifts are perfect when you’re going to go the college route. Night runs allow you to have all day off, and split shifts allow you to go to class in between runs. Transit breaks can be 4-5 hours long in some cases. Perfect time to take advantage of Economics 100. 

You’ll probably have to have weekdays off, which is fine. Plenty of time to hang with friends, and have happy hours, and enjoy the luxury of going places without lines and crowds. You may miss weekends off every now and then, however, you are on a 4-year mission. The weekends off will come soon enough. My friends had weekends off and had nowhere near the money I did. 

Do what you have to do now, so you can do what you want to do later.

Transit has the advantage of having many departments, which gives you leverage in choosing a course/college path that aligns with your goals. Business, entrepreneurship, urban planning, engineering, and even technology are all valid options. I personally had taken up Transportation Studies but there are dozens of options that have nothing to do with an actual bus. I learned a lot of cool things in that time frame like how roads are built and why traffic likes operate a certain way. Even learned how some buildings are built.

This course allowed me to easily transition to MTA’s service development department, while also qualifying me for cool jobs like traffic engineer. This took me a total of maybe 3 years to do and if I can do it, so can you!


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