CHARLOTTE, N.C. (QUEEN CITY NEWS) – CATS paratransit operators will now be among the highest-paid in the country, according to a release Monday.

A paratransit operator is a driver designated to specific locations on a set schedule, assisting seniors and persons with disabilities.

Officials say those employees will receive a $3.31 starting base pay increase, making the initial rate $23.31 per hour. A spokesperson advised the rate is $0.31 higher than operators in Brooklyn, New York, where the cost of living is 22%-41% higher than in Charlotte.

‘’With this latest achievement, we believe CATS is a leader in the industry when it comes to equitable compensation for professional operators in the paratransit field,” said Jennifer Fehribach, General Manager of the Bus Operations Division.

Additionally, officials advised paratransit operators are eligible for shift differential, meaning employees regularly assigned to the second or third shifts can receive an additional 2.5% premium added to their weekly base pay.

“Competitive and fair benefits, as well as recognizing our employee’s hard work, is always a goal for CATS,” said Brent Cagle, Interim CEO of CATS. “Our employees are the backbone of our organization; this latest increase in wages reflects our unwavering support of the important work our paratransit drivers do each and every day.”