INDIANAPOLIS — Tequila Norris is driven to start a new career.
From being a bill collector to soon collecting bus fares for IndyGo, I met Norris on her third day of driver training.
"I love dealing with people," she said. "I love helping people. I love making people smile."
Norris is exactly the kind of person IndyGo is looking to hire as the state's largest public transit system has an urgent need for bus operators.
IndyGo is not only competing with every transit system in the country, but also every school district looking for a CDL-licensed driver.
"Urgent need," said Carrie Black, IndyGo's director of communications. "We are looking to rebuild our workforce after COVID-19. We lost quite a few drivers for a variety if reasons. They needed to be home with their children or stay with their elderly loved ones."
The company estimates it will need to hire 10-15 people a month to avoid any changes to its current services, and to prepare for the Blue and Purple lines.
"We want people who like people. If you don't like people, this is not the job for you, period. We want people who re safety oriented and detail oriented," Black said.
Before you can start IndyGo driver training, you need to a CDL permit. The permit means passing three individual tests involving general knowledge, passenger safety and air brakes. That's the first step in the hiring process.
To apply, you must be at least 21 years old and training will take 8-10 weeks. Starting pay is more than $20 an hour.
Geneisha Berry has been with IndyGo for 7 years. She's gone from being the Most Improved Operator, among her many awards and honors, to now training future drivers.
"They appreciate the potential they see in their employees and they reward you for that. They don't hold you back," Berry said. "You have to be real with yourself and ask, 'what person am I?' Are you a driver who is easily aggravated by other drivers. That's not good. You have to patient. Patience is key. Patience is key to driving. Patience is key with dealing with the public."
Now public transportation and its future reliability hinges on getting aboard and embracing the help wanted call.