The National Academies

TCRP A-20B(2) [Completed]

Training for New Technology

  Project Data
Funds: $90,895
Research Agency: Klein Associates, Inc.
Principal Investigator: Sterling Wiggins
Effective Date: 1/19/2001
Completion Date: 9/19/2002

The public transit industry is adopting new technologies. While some of these technologies are specific to the transit industry, many are technologies used in common with other industries, e.g., voice and data radio communications, global positioning systems, integrated management information and productivity systems, and Internet applications. In order to achieve their potential to increase transit performance, these technologies must be introduced into a supportive cultural environment, specifically one in which participants at all levels are actively engaged in improving the organization's expertise.

While other industries are adopting many of the same technologies as the transit industry, the transit industry traditionally sees itself as unique, and has not always been receptive to new technology and training. Transit is generally structured as a component of local government with federal and state funding assistance and regulation. The most common management model has been hierarchical with a focus on operations. The combination of these factors discouraged exploration of new business approaches, limited innovation, and served as a barrier to the development of effective learning teams. Now, the sense of transit as unique is starting to fade, and forward-thinking managers are seeking to adopt mainstream business methods and technologies. Training is essential to this transformation.

The transit industry has the benefit of an extremely stable workforce. Employees not only stay within the industry itself, they typically stay with the same transit agency and even within the same functional job cluster. Labor stability promotes the development of craft-oriented specialization and experiential skill development. However, formal training is too often viewed as curative or even disciplinary rather than as part of a continuous learning process. This attitude must change in order to create a cultural environment in which new technologies can flourish. A stable work force is a plus for the industry, because trained employees stay with the system. Providing a work environment supportive of continuous learning will further capitalize on this human resource.

Experience indicates that a systems approach is necessary to successfully implement new technologies, and quality training is an integral part of a systems approach. A successful program must involve partnering with the employees being trained and with labor unions whose members are affected. Additionally, the program must employ training methods shown to be successful with adult learners. The systems approach to training includes planning for training, identifying the characteristics of the audiences being trained, execution of the training plan, determining outcomes, procuring training resources, budgeting, and process-oriented evaluation of success.

While training models exist within the transit industry, they are not always comprehensive nor always relevant to job requirements. For example, the type of training required in a large, multimodal transit agency is not the same as that needed in a mid-size, all-bus agency. The diverse nature of the industry demands multiple training models appropriate to the size and type of the organizations. There is a need to make the extensive body of knowledge on adult learning and technology training available to transit trainers in a form that can be quickly used to develop effective training programs for a transit agency.

Status: The revised final report has been published as TCRP Report 96. The game, a Decision Matrix, and a Decision Matrix Template can be modified by the user to accommodate the user's particular needs.

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