As part of BusCon’s Breakfast General Session, Halsey King of Halsey King and Associates discussed the Vehicle Maintenance Management and Inspection (VMMI) program, which is offered through the Community Transportation Association of America (CTAA).
Working with CTAA and the Federal Transit Administration’s (FTA) Rural Transit Assistance Program, the VMMI program is based largely upon the Transportation Cooperative Research Board’s Report #29. The report, “Closing the Knowledge Gap for Transit Maintenance Employees,” outlines a number of maintenance findings and needs and hit the industry just as the “Care and Feeding of School Buses” national fleet program, which was presented with Eastern Michigan University, was closing.
The intent of the VMMI program is to provide maintenance managers and staff a unique opportunity to receive training and industry knowledge they were not previously receiving, according to Halsey King.
“There are several programs out there for drivers and managers, but the industry never had one specifically for maintenance personnel, so we got together and developed VMMI,” he says. “Over the years, we have upgraded VMMI to include the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and other federal and state laws that have been put into place. We also try to be one step ahead of what bus manufacturers are doing, to the extent we can.”
Keeping information in the VMMI program fresh is key, King adds, since many folks in the maintenance shops can’t get away to visit shows like BusCon to find out what’s new in the industry. Because of this, some maintenance managers and personnel may have also not learned much more since they started the job.
“We felt that we really needed to take a look at the systems and components that we’re teaching, because once people graduate from a school, their training is over and whatever skills and knowledge they have stays with them for the next few years,” he says. “Often times, that is because they can’t get out to a lot of these shows and hear it straight from the professionals.”
To help solve this issue, VMMI and other Halsey King and Associates programs travel around the nation to train classes of up to 25 people over two to three days. To date, training has been delivered in locations covering 43 states, with thousands of maintenance managers and staff, in addition to state department of transportation staff, enforcement agencies and even Altoona testing center staff receiving training.
“Initially, it was aimed at maintenance people, but now when I teach the course, the students can be anything from maintenance folks to drivers to board members to corporate officers,” King says. “It has really grown in popularity over the years and has been helpful for people outside of the maintenance departments to understand what needs to get done in the shop.”