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January 11, 2013

FTA releases $7M in transit workforce development funds

Seventeen organizations in 12 states will receive a share of $7 million from the Federal Transit Administration’s (FTA) Innovative Transit Workforce Development Program. The grants help local public transit agencies, institutions of higher education, nonprofit organizations, and Native American tribes train a future generation of transit professionals, with particular emphasis on promoting training opportunities in emerging technologies and encouraging young people to pursue careers in public transportation.

A table listing projects selected for funding in Fiscal Year 2012 is available here.

U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood announced the grants at the Booker T. Washington Public Charter School for Technical Arts in Washington, D.C., where he highlighted a $795,334 workforce grant awarded to the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (Metro). This grant will be used to provide military veterans and high school students with skills training and assistance to help them transition into Metro’s Bus Maintenance Apprenticeship programs. Participants will receive mechanical, electrical and electronics training to successfully join Metro’s work force.

Other projects funded by the grants focus on helping transit workers master hybrid and electric vehicle technologies, intelligent transportation systems, and computer-aided dispatch systems. Many projects also reach out to underserved communities and showcase innovative methods for inspiring youths to pursue careers in public transportation. FTA received a total of 64 eligible applications seeking more than $30 million in funds for the FY 2012 program.

In FY 2011, FTA provided $3 million for 12 transit workforce training programs that are showing great promise. For example, through Denver Regional Transportation District’s “Workforce Initiative Now” program, roughly 280 college-aged teens and adults have been trained and/or hired to work on local transportation construction projects.

Under the new surface transportation law, Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century (MAP-21), FTA is authorized to establish a competitive grant program to address the staffing needs of public transportation providers, advance maintenance-related training for alternative and energy-efficient vehicles and facilities, target areas with high rates of unemployment, and address current and projected workforce shortages in technical areas.

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