PARTA offers Kent students work opportunity, driving experience

Student+Stephan+Ringler+drives+the+PARTA+bus+through+front+campus%2C+April+3%2C+2014.

Student Stephan Ringler drives the PARTA bus through front campus, April 3, 2014.

Nathan J. Havenner

For students looking for employment while in school at Kent State, PARTA can be a good option according to PARTA student employees Lindsey Eubank and Stephan Ringler.

Eubank, a sophomore public health major, has driven a bus for PARTA for the last 3 semesters and works 32 hours each week.

“PARTA is a good option for students because you can pick your schedule,” Eubank said. “You must be able to work a minimum of 12 hours a week if you are a student.”

Ringler, a sophomore computer science major, works 35 hours each week and has driven a PARTA bus during the last 4 semesters and agrees with Eubank.

“PARTA is very willing to work around your class schedule,” he said. “They feel academics should come first.”

Ringler said it’s common for PARTA to schedule student shifts so they have 30 minutes to get to their class after the end of their shift.

“If they can’t schedule this, sometimes a supervisor will actually drive you to your class,” he said. “They make sure you get to class on time.”

Frank Hairston, PARTA director of marketing, said there are currently 75 Kent State students working for PARTA.

Eubank said that to drive a bus you must earn a commercial driver’s license by completing the CDL training. This program is provided to prospective employees by PARTA at no cost.

“You learn how to back up a bus, parallel park and also just how to function in the bus properly,” she said.

Eubank said one of the most challenging parts of learning to drive a bus is getting over the fear of driving a vehicle that is so much larger than what you are used to driving. Both Eubank and Ringler agree that not everyone understands the challenges PARTA drivers face during their shift.

“The traffic between each stop can become very overwhelming,” Ringler said. “The passenger flow increases at the same time traffic does so sometimes we will spend three minutes just loading and unloading passengers.”

Eubank said if a passenger complains to her about the buses being inconsistent; she apologizes for the inconvenience and explains that they are always trying to stay on schedule.

Despite the fact that so many young people are driving buses, Hairston said he has never had a complaint from a passenger about a young driver in the 12 years he has worked for PARTA.

Junior chemistry major Sandra Urbach said she rides the bus all the time and has never had any concern about riding a bus driven by a young driver.

“I know they have to go through training to get their CDL so I don’t see what the issue would be,” Urbach said.

Sophomore architecture and environmental design major Chris Schaaf agrees that safety is not one of his concerns if he is riding a bus with a young driver.

“Their training is reassuring to me,” Schaaf said.

PARTA actually prefers to hire drivers without experience so they can make sure their training is up to their own standards, Hairston said.

“I tell them that when they graduate they will have a degree and a CDL, so you’re hot property,” Hairston said.

Contact Nathan Havenner at [email protected].