There have been rumors and misinformation heard from time to time that Port Authority drivers are paid huge salaries of up to $100,000 a year. These attempts to blame the hard-working drivers for the cuts in bus service don’t stand up to the facts.
The starting hourly wage for a PAT driver is $16.05. The top wage rate for drivers is $24.50. That’s a modest wage in today’s economy, and drivers work hard in a job with tremendous responsiblities. They safely transport hundreds of people a day to their destinations in a huge vehicle, while dealing with the sometimes-unpredictable behavior of other motorists and occasional conflicts among riders.
Some drivers put in a very long workday for which they are only partially compensated. If a driver ends up with a route that’s on a “split shift” he or she drives in the morning and again in the afternoon, but in between may have as much as three or four hours of unpaid downtime. If the driver lives a long distance from the bus garage (in the South Hills, for example, while driving out of the Harmar or East Liberty garage), it is senseless to go home and then come back. So the driver has to wait (without pay) at the garage, and may routinely get home 12 or 13 hours after leaving in the morning.