Ron Corbin decided to follow in his father’s footsteps on Friday— sort of.
The 26-year-old son of a CTA train operator attended a job fair on the Far South Side where CTA officials were recruiting bus drivers and mechanics.
“CTA treated my dad pretty well, I figured why not give it a shot,” Corbin said.
The South Side native recently received a commercial driver’s license. He drives a school bus in Chicago Ridge but heard about the fair and saw it as a good opportunity.
“It’s better pay, and I love the city. This gives me a chance to drive around it again.”
Hundreds of people attended the job fair at Olive-Harvey College, 10001 S. Woodlawn Ave., on Friday. CTA officials shared information on the city agency, requirements for the jobs they are looking to fill and, finally, how to apply.
“CTA is an essential part of Chicago. People rely on us, but we can’t do it without the manpower,” said Arlana Johnson, a CTA manager and former bus driver. The 51-year-old has two daughters who work for the agency, one as a driver and the other in management.
“We’re looking for talented people in Chicago to help us move Chicago,” she said.
Tom McKone, the CTA’s chief administrative officer, said the agency was looking to hire about 100 bus mechanics, and there was “no cap” on how many bus drivers. Both jobs come with benefits, pensions and the perk of free CTA passes.
New CTA mechanics will earn about $40 per hour and new bus drivers about $28 per hour under incentives announced Friday. New hires will also receive an $1,000 hiring bonus; current employees become eligible for retention bonuses every six months through December 2023.
The agency has about 1,000 fewer drivers than it did before the pandemic, although there are more full-time drivers now than in 2019.
Attendees were evenly split between those who wanted to get behind the wheel and those looking to work under the hood.
Edward Lomax, an Auburn Gresham resident, used to drive a truck between St. Louis and Chicago and wants back in the saddle.
“This is something that’ll better my life,” the 54-year-old said.
Victor Fornek, 62, was looking for a mechanics job. The Summit resident has a job working on trucks but figured the city agency would offer better hours.
Like Corbin, he got into the field to follow in his father’s footsteps, a mechanic who worked on cars and trucks in Chicago.
“Since it’s already in your blood, you stay in the field, you know,” he said. ]
The agency will host a fair on the West Side Dec. 2 at Malcolm X College.
Michael Loria is a staff reporter at the Chicago Sun-Times via Report for America, a not-for-profit journalism program that aims to bolster the paper’s coverage of communities on the South Side and West Side.