PARTA employs students

Lauren Frankovich

PARTA/Campus Bus Service has recently been accused that it no longer hires students, but PARTA disagrees.

“We’re not cutting down on students. We want them to work here,” said Frank Hairston, marketing director at PARTA. “We are committed to hiring students and providing safe transportation.”

Portage Area Regional Transportation Authority has 229 employees, 109 of which are students. Students and staff get along well at PARTA, and the pay is good, Hairston said.

One reason PARTA hires students is because buses only operate when students are in school. They recruit students once a week on campus, typically at Tri-Towers because a lot of underclassmen live there, Hairston said.

Students graduate and positions need filled, so PARTA is constantly hiring new employees, Hairston said.

Sarah Torres, senior human development and family studies major, has worked at PARTA for three years and enjoys it because she is “out and about.”

Employees are required to work a minimum of 10 to 12 hours a week. PARTA accommodates students’ school schedules and allows them to choose their work schedules and drive buses between classes, Hairston said.

Torres said it is easy for her to work because she is only taking a few classes this semester.

One of three student trainers employed by PARTA, Torres said she enjoys her job because she works with students in a fun atmosphere and doesn’t have to work with food. There is a lot of room to move up and advance, she said.

Bryan Smith, operations manager at PARTA, said there is plenty of room for promotion in the organization, even as a student. He started working for PARTA in 1995 and made a career out of it. A few other full-time employees started out as students, Smith said.

He said PARTA pays for its employees to receive commercial driver’s license training.

“There are lots of ways to make a living with a CDL,” Smith said.

Torres said she trains new employees for their CDLs. Student jobs include operators, chauffeurs and attendants. Employees start their training at the stadium, and part of the training includes driving and maneuverability, Torres said.

Zachary Boivin, junior integrated math major, said being a bus operator is a great student job because it pays for a CDL, which can be used later on in life.

He said before he received his CDL, he had to learn how to make turns, stay in the correct lane and parallel park.

Boivin said the best part of his job is the passengers.

“I see new faces,” Boivin said.

PARTA participates in the federal work-study program and grants the $1,000 Blakemore Scholarship to one employee. If employees have 1,000 driving hours without a chargeable accident, they are a part of the “Safe Driver’s Club,” Hairston said.

PARTA operates seven days a week and provides transportation to Akron, Cleveland, Youngstown and all of Portage County. There are 15 to 16 buses out at a time, Hairston said.

Contact transportation reporter Lauren Frankovich at [email protected].