AUSTIN (KXAN) — Austin’s transportation agency has been awarded almost $800,000 in funding from the American Rescue Plan.
CapMetro announced Friday it would receive $780,100 to help with staff recruitment, retention and training, as well as career development services.
The agency said the American Rescue Plan Route Planning Restoration grant would allow CapMetro to implement training for front-line staff. This included operators, mechanics, supervisors and dispatchers “to better support them at their time of hire and increase long-term employment.”
“More good news for Austin from the American Rescue Plan, which has done so much for our community,” said Rep. Lloyd Doggett (D-Austin). “These federal funds will help address workforce shortages, grow good-paying jobs, and upgrade the skills of CapMetro workers. These dollars support our continuing work to meet our mobility challenges and improve public transportation—getting people to work, school, and play, helping our transportation infrastructure grow stronger as our city grows.”
CapMetro says the COVID-19 pandemic had a significant impact on operations, forcing the agency to alter service schedules due to labor shortages. In a press release, the agency said the grant would be “essential” in helping reestablish service levels for customers.
“This is great news for the hardworking frontline staff at CapMetro and it will truly make a difference,” interim President and CEO Dottie Watkins said. “Workforce development is an important part of our strategic plan and investing in our frontline staff to best serve our community is key.”
CapMetro is currently hiring bus operators and mechanics. Starting pay for bus operators is $22 an hour, while mechanics earn at least $31 an hour. Some qualified candidates are also eligible for up to a $3,500 signing bonus.
Six other transit agencies in Texas were awarded grants, including San Antonio, El Paso and Lubbock agencies.
Across the country, $25 million in grants were awarded to 50 agencies in 24 states.