CHICAGO — The Chicago Transit Authority announced new incentives to hire and retain bus and rail workers.

The new employee incentives have a budget of about $80 million for two years and come as the CTA works to address workforce shortages, according to a press release from the CTA.

These incentives are for newly hired union employees in certain job titles, according to the release:

  • Bus operators, mechanics and rail car repairers hiring in 2022 and 2023 will receive a $1,000 hiring bonus with their first pay check. Employees need to stay with CTA for one year or they will be required to pay it back.
  • Eligible employees can get an incentive payment every six months worked. It equals 3% of their hourly rate for actual hours worked with a maximum of 1,250 hours per period.
  • Salaries for bus mechanics and railcar repairers will start between $39-$40 an hour.
  • Salaries for bus and rail operators will start at more than $28 an hour. Through 2024, the time to reach 100% of the top rate will be shortened to 33 months.

According to the release, CTA already offers employees health insurance, paid time off and other benefits.

The CTA said the incentives are part of the Meeting the Moment: Transforming CTA’s Post-Pandemic Future Action Plan.

“Our employees are this agency’s most important assets,” CTA President Dorval R. Carter Jr. said in a release. “They are the unsung heroes of the city, who are devoted every day to provide the service on which so many people rely.”