The average SEPTA driver with experience earns about $61,000 a year. —WHYY PHOTO/KIMBERLY PAYNTER

It’s no secret that the pandemic has caused a shortage of SEPTA bus drivers in the city. So West Philadelphia Skills Initiative is recruiting candidates interested in online training for the job.

The program is seeking “customer service superstars,” who have had a valid driver’s license for at least the last three years, an open schedule and interest in a career at SEPTA.

The deadline is 5 p.m. Thursday (Jan. 13). In order to apply, go to the West Philadelphia Skills Initiative website’s employment page and complete the online application. This program is a partnership between SEPTA and West Philadelphia initiative.

The average SEPTA driver with experience earns about $61,000 a year.

Other requirements include: Must be unemployed, live in Philadelphia, have a high school diploma or GED. In addition, candidates must provide complete proof of COVID-19 vaccination by March 2022.

Other program requirements are candidates must have access to a laptop or desktop computer, broadband internet, a webcam, word processing program such as Microsoft Word, Google Documents or something similar.

In addition, a commitment to a full training schedule that will include: facilitated group conversations from 9 a.m. to noon, Monday through Friday; additional one-on-one and small group virtual meetings several times a week between 1 p.m. and 3 p.m.; about two hours of reading and reflection exercises and Commercial Drivers License testing at Pennsylvania Department of Transportation locations.

There is no cost for the program and it pays a $150 weekly stipend. There is also no cost for the CDL training and testing. About 95% of the graduates get jobs. Candidates who complete the training get an interview with SEPTA.

Amanda Rubiano, a recent graduate of the program, said it gave her the positivity that she needed in her life.

“I was just kind of lost. I was working retail but I knew that it wasn’t something that I wanted to do in the long run,” Rubiano said. “I do love driving.”

Rubiano said she would often enjoy watching her uncles’ work on cars and has worked at an oil change business.

Then, one day Rubiano’s boyfriend told her about the training program, she applied and successfully completed it.

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