Public transportation strives to achieve customer satisfaction by providing safe, efficient, accessible and reliable service. Technical training has played an important role in how public transportation agencies accomplish this mission. The current economic climate has forced many larger transit agencies to reduce their technical training opportunities, while a significant number of small and medium-size agencies have limited access to technical training opportunities. The shortage of training comes at a time when the technical complexity of transit vehicles and infrastructure is at its greatest and increasing each year. Keeping these complex technologies operational requires skilled technicians.
Further, transit faces historic technical workforce challenges arising from several causes:
- The loss of skilled “baby boomer” technical workers now retiring in large numbers;
- An increased demand for technical workers in other trades;
- The ability of the private sector to offer training and higher wages;
- The increasing maintenance requirements of an aging capital stock with a growing lack of state of good repair; and
- A rapidly changing cycle of technology where new and increasingly complex equipment is introduced at a fast pace.
Effective technical training programs exist for the operation and maintenance of transit vehicles (bus and rail) and facilities infrastructure. However, there is a need to maximize the benefits of transit’s existing capacity by identifying and sharing the available technical training resources at little or no cost. Research is needed to identify the best way to provide access to these training resources.
The objectives of this research are to: (1) document the best models of technical training programs serving U.S. and international transportation agencies, and related industries; (2) develop an electronic, sharable training resource catalog of available training materials; and (3) identify procedures for disseminating the training resources to the transit community at large. This research will be useful to transit managers and learning professionals. This research should be relevant to a cross-section of transit agencies. For the purpose of this research, technical training includes that for transit vehicle (bus and rail) operators, vehicle maintenance technicians, and facilities and infrastructure technicians.