Employment of subway and streetcar operators is projected to grow 10 percent from 2010 to 2020, about as fast as the average for all occupations. Growth is expected because several cities have proposed building new subway or streetcar systems or expanding existing systems.
Demand for new rail systems is driven by population growth in cities. In addition, an expected increase in gas prices will likely cause some drivers to switch to rail for their commutes.
However, despite expected increases in demand for rail systems, employment growth for subway and streetcar operators depends on state and local government budgets. Building rail systems is expensive, and, during economic downturns, the costs might cause some cities to scale back or cancel their plans for new systems.
Cities could also look to replace some planned lines with buses, which are cheaper to operate and still may satisfy commuters' demand for public transit. As a result, employment growth of subway and streetcar operators may be lower than expected if state and local governments have budget shortfalls.
Job opportunities for subway and streetcar operators should be good in cities where new rail systems are being built. There is likely to be more competition for jobs in cities with existing systems. Opportunities should be best for applicants with experience driving public transportation vehicles, such as buses. For more information, see the profile on bus drivers.
Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2012-13 Edition