Bus drivers employed by University of Connecticut HuskyGo, formerly known as Transportation Services, voiced their concerns about the secrecy of a new driver contract bid, which could replace the drivers with privately hired workers.
The contract, which was put out to bid in January is for a privately run company to operate the UConn buses, according to a UConn news release. The company selected for the bid “will operate the fixed-route bus lines with its own commercial driver’s license-certified drivers,” the release said.
While the details of the contract are still under wraps, the bid selected will be reviewed by the board of trustees, and should be released in June, according to HuskyGo director Dennis Solensky.
The secrecy of the contract, and the status of current driver’s future employment status, has been a point of frustration for many.
“They’re not letting us know if we have jobs,” said one bus driver, who asked to remain anonymous because drivers are not permitted to speak to the media. “We don’t even know what the company is. There’s so many questions and no answers.”
The search for a private contract came after the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) changed its driver standards, requiring bus drivers to have a commercial license and go through federal training to operate the buses, UConn said in a news release.
Transportation Services stopped hiring students in September 2016 because of these new federal regulations, as UConn currently does not have the facilities to train student drivers for this requirement. While no new students are being hired, there are still some students who work as drivers, since they were hired before the policy.
The new company will be encouraged to re-hire current UConn drivers, if need be, university spokeswoman Stephanie Reitz said.
“All of the companies we interviewed have committed to interviewing our drivers and hiring those who meet the qualifications, scheduling requirements and have performed well in those jobs,” Reitz said. “The company with whom we sign the contract will have the final decision on who to hire, but we’re confident they’ll want qualified and experienced drivers in their ranks.”
More concrete information regarding the outsourcing contract will be available in a public statement in June, Solensky said.
Marlese Lessing is a staff writer for The Daily Campus. She can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org. She tweets @marlese_lessing.