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Center Identification Number: 350-09  

Project Title: National Applications for the Florida Maintenance Training Program 

Principle Investigator:

Mike Crittenden
813-974-9783
crittend@cutr.eng.usf.edu

Institution:

Center for Urban Transportation Research
University of South Florida
Tampa, Florida

I. Project Objective 

To increase interest in and provide information for state or region-wide consortium maintenance training programs.

This project will provide information and direction for national public transportation maintenance departments who are interested in consortium training. Information sharing based on the experiences of the Florida Maintenance Training Program (FMTP) model will be the main component of the project. This will include various methods, such as internet-based information exchange; national distribution of maintenance training publications developed under FMTP; presentations in aggregate settings, such as conferences and national meetings; and individual consultations with requesting agencies nationwide. Consortium maintenance training has been shown through the FMTP to promote cost efficiency and fleet safety.

II. Project Abstract 

As the transit industry moves ahead into the 21st Century, four main issues are emerging in maintenance departments: a dramatic increase in new technologies in the vehicles themselves and the diagnostics and tools used to repair them; a number of new external regulations addressing environmental and access issues; an increase in focus on vehicle safety, and the need to attract new and retain existing talent in the industry. All of these issues point to a need for increased focus on training in transit maintenance departments.

To meet this need, the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) developed the Florida Maintenance Training Program (FMTP). The program began with a joint participation agreement between the Florida Department of Transportation the Center for Urban Transportation Research (CUTR), and set into place a new concept for Florida's public transportation providers - consortium training. In order to provide public transit technicians with more current and advanced training, the FMTP immediately set out to establish ongoing training with both classroom and hands-on components, a resource center of training programs and materials, and communication channels among maintenance managers. A set of specific procedures were developed for determining training needs, contracting the best possible instructors to teach courses, covering costs of travel and training participation for technicians, and evaluating both the quality and usefulness of the training.

Oversight of the FMTP is conducted by an advisory committee composed of transit maintenance managers, a representative from FDOT, and FMTP staff. This committee oversees all processes and generally guides the direction of the training program. In addition, this group often discusses issues having direct impact on public transportation maintenance departments. Other activities of the FMTP include publication of a quarterly newsletter, distributed to maintenance technicians and managers, state officials, and others interested in maintenance training nationally.

The program also maintains a web site to aid in increasing communication between transit maintenance professionals, and a list-serve established for the same purpose. The program resource center at CUTR also keeps an up to date equipment and inventory list for each of Florida's public transit maintenance departments, which aids in determining future training needs.

Although each state and region must address different issues, obstacles, and players in promoting and developing maintenance training of this sort, the FMTP can easily be used as a model for building consortium maintenance training programs nationally and regionally. This project aims to further awareness of the need for increased focus on maintenance training, and to provide information sharing and guidance for those states and regions who are ready to develop a consortium training program suited to their needs. It will first target the Southeast region and those states who have previously indicated their interest in the FMTP model, and later widen its focus to a national audience. This is intended to be a multi-year program, designed to gradually expand the program's benefits and outreach efforts to all sections of the country.

III. Task Descriptions 

Task 1 Technology Sharing and Awareness Campaign 

In this task, FMTP staff will work to increase awareness of the benefits of consortium maintenance training and the positive experiences of the FMTP model This will be done through expansion of the current technology transfer aspects of the FMTP. Mailing lists for FMTP publications and information will be expanded to include other states in the Southeast region. Both the program website and listserve will be expanded and available as a national clearinghouse for the exchange of best maintenance practices. CUTR staff will also participate more actively on national committees which address maintenance issues, including those sponsored by the American Public Transit Association (APTA), the Community Transportation Association of America (CTAA), and the Society for Automotive Engineers (STS).

Task 2 Technical Assistance and Individual Consultation 

In this task, FMTP staff will provide technical assistance to other state DOT's and state transit associations who wish to explore the establishment of a consortium training program in their area. This assistance can include presentations to state DOT's and transit associations on the FMTP model, assistance strategy design for building a state or regional program, and other information sharing as requested.

Task 3 Training 

In this task, technicians from other states would be invited to attend FMTP training in Florida on a space available basis. This will allow those states and agencies who wish to participate in consortium training, but are unable to establish a program of their own immediately, to benefit.

IV. Student Involvement 

A students assistant will be used to aid the expansion and maintenance of the program's information sharing component. The student will also assist in the review of progress reports and summary of projects' strengths and weaknesses.

V. Relationship to Other Projects 

This project will be directly related to and enhanced by the ongoing efforts of the FMTP. In addition, a related research project is currently underway analyzing the economic impacts (both qualitative and quantitative) of maintenance training using the state of Florida's experience as a case study. Results from this project, available February 2000, are expected to further increase interest in and support for consortium maintenance training.

VI. Technology Transfer Activities/Peer Review 

Technology transfer is one of the main endeavors of this project. In addition to those specific items described in Task II, information and insights gained through this project will be disseminated at national conferences such as those sponsored by APTA, the Transportation Research Board (TRB) annual meeting, and the National Transit Institute's annual Transit Trainers Conference.

Peer review will be conducted on an ongoing basis with other CUTR/ NCTR research faculty, state and national transit maintenance department managers, and the FMTP advisory board in an effort to identify areas for improvement and increased effectiveness of the National Applications for the Florida Maintenance Training Program.

VII. Potential Benefits of the Project 

The FMTP program has provided a partial solution to maintenance training needs, and has been well received and supported by FDOT officials, maintenance managers, maintenance technicians, and public transit general managers. It is credited by managers and FDOT officials with reducing maintenance expenses by honing the skills of technicians and increasing the accuracy of repairs and the safety of transit fleets.

Expanding awareness of the benefits of increased maintenance training and aiding other states in establishing their own consortium programs is expected to provide the same benefits. Increased contact with other state DOTs and transit maintenance departments will also enable best practices and other innovative programs to be explored, which may lead to the discovery of other valuable research questions in the transit maintenance field.

VIII. TRB Keywords 

Public transit, maintenance, training.

 

National Center for Transit Research at the Center For Urban Transportation Research University of South Florida 4202 E. Fowler Ave., CUT100 Tampa, FL 33620-5375 (813) 974-3120 (813) 974-5168 www.nctr.usf.edu Comments: webmaster@cutr.eng.usf.edu