CapMetro received $780,000 from the US bailout

AUSTIN (KXAN) — Austin’s transportation agency has received nearly $800,000 in funding from the American Rescue Plan.

CapMetro announced Friday that it will receive $780,100 to help with staff recruitment, retention and training, as well as career development services.

The agency said the U.S. Rescue Plan Route Planning Restoration grant would allow CapMetro to implement training for frontline personnel. This included operators, mechanics, supervisors and dispatchers “to better support them when they are hired and increase long-term employment.”

“More good news for Austin from the US bailout, which has done so much for our community,” said Rep. Lloyd Doggett (D-Austin). “These federal funds will help address labor shortages, create well-paying jobs and improve the skills of CapMetro workers. These dollars support our ongoing work to address 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 has had a significant impact on operations, forcing the agency to change service schedules due to labor shortages. In a press release, the agency said the grant would be “essential” to help restore service levels for customers.

“This is great news for CapMetro’s frontline staff and it will truly make a difference,” said Interim President and CEO Dottie Watkins. “Workforce development is an important part of our strategic plan and investing in our frontline staff to better serve our community is essential.”

CapMetro is currently hiring bus drivers and mechanics. The starting salary for bus drivers is $22 per hour, while mechanics earn at least $31 per hour. Certain qualified candidates are also eligible for a signing bonus of up to $3,500.

Six other Texas transit agencies received grants, including agencies in San Antonio, El Paso and Lubbock.

Nationwide, $25 million in grants were awarded to 50 agencies in 24 states.