Transit Briefs: RTD, CTA, MBTA, VIA Rail

Written by Carolina Worrell, Senior Editor
VIA Rail is implementing key changes towards its objective to offer a zero-waste experience on its new Corridor fleet by 2025.

VIA Rail is implementing key changes towards its objective to offer a zero-waste experience on its new Corridor fleet by 2025.

The Regional Transportation District (RTD) seeks feedback about proposed revisions to its customer Code of Conduct. Also, the Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) kicks off national “Second Chance” month with recruitment effort; the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA) continues aggressive hiring campaign; and VIA Rail Canada (VIA Rail) implements key changes towards its objective to offer a zero-waste experience on its new Corridor fleet by 2025.


RTD announced April 3 that it is seeking community feedback about proposed revisions and amendments to its current Code of Conduct, whose list of prohibited activities and antisocial behaviors was recently amended by the agency to “emphasize respect for other customers and RTD’s employees, vehicles and facilities.”

Following a month-long internal review process of RTD’s current Code of Conduct, staff identified and proposed amendments to “better support a safe, convenient and enjoyable experience for all customers.” According to RTD, the recommended changes, which are now being shared for community feedback during a two-month process, “shorten the current list of prohibited, antisocial behaviors to outline expectations more effectively.”

According to the agency, RTD is rebranding its Code of Conduct as “Respect the Ride” to “emphasize individual ownership for personal behaviors and the need for common courtesy.”

“Respect the Ride focuses on supporting a welcoming and enjoyable transit experience for all customers,” said RTD General Manager and CEO Debra A. Johnson. “RTD is committed to making lives better through connections, whether that is connecting a customer with their destination or the meaningful connections that happen with others. To support all types of connections in a positive way, RTD is simply asking its customers to follow a set of behavioral guidelines.”

Prior to the proposed amendments being considered for adoption by RTD’s Board of Directors during its June meeting cycle, the agency says it is seeking community feedback, input and comments. RTD launched a website to outline the proposed amendments and solicit input through an online feedback form. All members of the Denver metropolitan community are invited to visit the website, read the proposed amendments and share feedback, which will then be shared with the Board.

In addition to collecting online feedback, RTD will participate in community events and outreach opportunities to engage community partners, answer questions, correct misinformation and address customer concerns.

RTD first implemented its Code of Conduct in 2016, and the list of prohibited activities was last amended in 2020.


To help kick off “Second Chance” in April, the CTA announced that it is hosting an in-person hiring event on Saturday, April 8, for its Second Chance Program (SCP), “a naturally recognized, holistic workforce program that provides valuable job skills and career opportunities to Chicago residents who often face challenges re-entering the workforce.”

According to CTA, since 2011, the agency’s Second Chance Program (SCP) has served more than 1,700 of the City of Chicago’s justice involved residents and others who face barriers to employment. To date, more than 500 program participants have secured permanent positions within the CTA, with some having risen through the ranks to management. Other SCP graduates, CTA says, have utilized the skills they learned at CTA to secure jobs with other employers.

“The pandemic impacted every aspect of our lives, but one group that has been hit particularly hard are those who can benefit from initiatives like CTA’s Second Chance Program, which is seeking applicants looking for a fresh start,” said CTA President Dorval R. Carter, Jr. “Most importantly, if you become part of the Second Change Program, you’re not just getting a job, rather a holistic program that provides training, career path assistance, upskilling opportunities, mentoring, networking, and other support and resources to aide in re-entering the workforce.”

Candidates interested in attending the in-person event must complete an online survey. Once approved, an email invitation will be sent with more details, including reserving a spot for one of the available sessions on Saturday, April 8 from 8-11 a.m. or 1-4 p.m.

During these sessions, CTA says attendees will learn about SCP, complete a CTA job application, receive date and time for an interview and pre-employment process, participate in a resource fair and meet CTA leadership, program staff and partners who are there to answer any questions.

To qualify for SCP, interested individuals must be a City of Chicago resident, 18 years or older, have a barrier to employment—justice involved, domestic violence survivor, or have housing insecurities, must be and remain drug free (including marijuana), show proof of full vaccination against COVID-19 per CDC standards and have an interest in janitorial work. 

SCP, CTA says, has many program benefits, including 40 work hours per week for at least one-year ($15.40 hourly rate); paid Commercial Learner’s Permit training; professional development opportunities; workshops and assistance to apply for permanent CTA Positions; plus, free transportation on CTA, Metra and Pace.


The MBTA announced that, effective April 15, the agency will increase its sign-on bonus to $7,500 for applicants applying to several eligible positions throughout the MBTA as part of its aggressive hiring campaign.

The list of positions eligible to receive the $7,500 sign-on bonus has also been expanded and includes Bus Operators, Rail Repairers, Track Laborers, Streetcar Operators, Subway Train Operators, Service Technicians, and Fuelers. Previously, the MBTA’s recruitment efforts included a $4,500 sign-on bonus for new Bus Operators only.

According to MBTA, the Healey-Driscoll Administration has requested $20 million in the Commonwealth’s March supplemental budget for new resources that can enable the MBTA to better recruit and retain employees to meet its needs. This includes money that could be used for incentives, such as hiring and retention bonuses, increased pay for Bus Operators, and a robust marketing campaign.

“As a tight labor market impacts staffing at transit agencies across the country, the MBTA has streamlined and fast-tracked its hiring process through digitization, improving hiring cycle times, and doubling the size of its HR Recruiting team,” the agency said. The MBTA has also gone to many online and in-person career fairs across the region; collaborated with local partners like education centers, MassHire, and more regarding identifying eligible candidates; and continues to brainstorm innovative ideas to promote the MBTA’s many benefits and incentives. Making steady progress on its recruitment efforts, the MBTA says it nearly doubled the number of new hires in the first half of Fiscal Year 2023 (676 hires) when compared to the same period in Fiscal Year 2022 (344 hires). Employee retirement is cyclical and is incorporated into the MBTA’s ongoing workforce planning and retention efforts.

The MBTA offers competitive salaries, extensive healthcare benefits, free public transit, training programs, tuition assistance, employee assistance programs, and an emphasis on diversity, equity, and inclusion. MBTA employees also receive attractive retirement plans, paid vacation, holidays, and sick time, and flexible spending accounts. The MBTA also covers the cost of obtaining a Commercial Driver’s License as part of the Bus Operator hiring and training process, which is an over $10,000 value.

Members of the public can view open positions online and visit the MBTA website for more information on insurance and other benefits.

VIA Rail

Since the unveiling of its sustainability plan in April 2022, VIA Rail says it has made “steady progress” towards its objective to offer a zero-waste experience on its new Corridor fleet by 2025 by focusing on the reduction of packaging and materials in Business and Economy classes and the improvement of waste collection on board its trains and in its facilities.

“As we are determined to have an immediate impact on our overall waste reduction, improvements that can be applied on the existing fleet will be implemented right away,” VIA Rail said. “As such, our passengers can already experience various changes related to packaging and plastic use on our current Corridor fleet.”

Amongst key changes recently implemented as part of its journey towards offering a zero-waste experience on its new Corridor fleet, VIA Rail:

  • Changed plastic cups, resulting in a 25% decrease in plastic use.
  • Reduced sandwich packaging, one of the agency’s top-selling products, saving the equivalent of more than six tons of waste annually in Economy class.
  • Completed in-class training of more than 70% of employees working on board trains to improve recycling and prepare for zero-waste objective.

Adding to the reusable cutlery and dishware used in Business class on its current fleet, VIA Rail says it will also use reusable glassware and water pitchers instead of plastic as each new Corridor train enters service. This change, which is enabled by the configuration of the new fleet, will allow for a reduction of plastic bottles used in Business class of more than two tons annually, according to VIA Rail.

The full list of changes recently implemented as part of VIA Rail’s zero-waste objective is available here.

VIA Rail says its sustainability plan focuses on governance, social and environmental pillars, which will “allow the Corporation to reduce its environmental footprint, enhance its role as a responsible transportation provider and create lasting value for present and future generations.” Continuously determined to be part of the solution in creating a more sustainable Canada, VIA Rail says it is “on board for good.”

More information on VIA Rail’s sustainability plan is available here.

“The key changes recently implemented are just the beginning of our zero-waste journey and we are pleased that our customers are already able to see improvements on our current fleet as we progress towards our objective of offering a zero-waste experience on our new Corridor fleet by 2025,” said VIA Rail Chief Customer Officer Rita Toporowski. “Determined to embed sustainability in every aspect of our operations, our zero-waste initiative exemplifies the vision we have for VIA Rail as a sustainable, modern and accessible mode of transportation.”

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