Developing a Joint System of Training and Apprenticeship in American Transit

Developing a Joint System of Training and Apprenticeship in American Transit

International Transportation Learning Center (with Robert W. Glover, the University of Texas at Austin)
September 2007

​Transit systems in the United States are facing unprecedented challenges in obtaining the workforce skills in maintenance departments to address pervasive technological changes, to replace an impending wave of retirements of “baby boom” workers, and to accommodate significant growth in transit ridership. ​Several new technologies have been driving change in the transit industry, especially advanced electronics used in controls for engines, transmissions, or brakes and in all aspects of communications, including global positioning satellite (GPS) systems. Many technologies such as electronic fare cards, automatic vehicle location (AVL) supporting real-time information systems, and new transit rail lines have increased customer convenience and led directly to growing ridership. In addition, environmental concerns are driving adoption of new clean propulsion technologies. Earlier innovations such as compressed natural gas are being augmented by cleaner-burning diesel and hybrid gas-electric and diesel-electric propulsion systems. Prospects are for continued changes; biodiesel, hydrogen, ultra-clean diesel and fuel cell power are on the horizon.

This paper reviews training innovations and lessons that may be applicable to the transit industry from practices used in other industries. It draws on a rich body of experience of joint apprenticeship and training  programs, as well as employer-sponsored training.