PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — The Amalgamated Transit Union Local 618 voted to increase pay for Rhode Island Public Transit Authority (RIPTA) bus drivers in an effort to address an ongoing shortage, a union spokesperson told 12 News on Wednesday.

Local 618 Vice President Joe Cole said the union approved raising the hourly pay from $16.45 to about $21. The increase was approved by a 400-49 union vote.

“It’s going to help with getting the manpower and womanpower here to work,” Cole added.

RIPTA has struggled with a driver shortage for months, resulting in canceled routes and K-12 students left waiting for buses that never showed up.

The $16.45 hourly pay made it hard to recruit new drivers, according to Cole. He said RITPA’s board of directors is expected to approve the pay increase at the end of November.

“We’ve got a great job here,” Cole said. “We’ve got good benefits, and we’ve got a great union.”

Tolly Taylor ( is a Target 12 investigative reporter for 12 News. Connect with him on Twitter and on Facebook