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Center Identification Number: 415-13

Project Title: National Outreach Initiative for the Florida Maintenance Training Program

Principle Investigator: 

Lisa Staes, Senior Research Associate
813-974-9787
E-mail: staes@cutr.eng.usf.edu

Institution: 

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

I. Project Objective

To increase the awareness of and interest in state or region-wide training program consortiums. This project will provide information and direction for maintenance department and state departments of transportation nationwide who are interested in consortium training. The Florida Maintenance Training Program (FMTP) will serve as a model and be the subject of Information sharing and outreach. This effort will be conducted through various methods, such as internet-based information exchange; national distribution of maintenance training publications developed by the FMTP; presentations before state and regional conferences and national functions; and individual consultations with transit agencies, state departments of transportation, and Federal Transit Administration regional offices and/or main office, as requested.

II. Project Abstract

As the transit industry moves forward into the 21st Century, four main issues are emerging in transit maintenance departments: a dramatic increase in new technologies in the vehicles and the diagnostics and tools used to repair them; new and constantly revised external regulations addressing environmental, access, and policy/procedural issues; an increased focus on vehicle safety; and the need to attract new technicians and retain existing talent. All of these issues point to a need for increased awareness of training programs currently available and alternative opportunities for the delivery of transit maintenance training.

Recognizing the need for transit agencies to have access to structured, consistently delivered training opportunities, the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) developed the Florida Maintenance Training Program (FMTP). The program began over ten years ago with a joint participation agreement between the FDOT and the Center for Urban Transportation Research (CUTR) that ushered in a new concept for Florida's public transit providers - consortium training. In order to provide public transit technicians with more current and advanced training, the FMTP immediately developed ongoing training opportunities with both classroom and hands-on components, a resource center of training curriculum and materials, and communication resources among maintenance managers. A set of specific procedures were developed for determining training needs, contracting with the best possible instructors/facilities to teach each of the courses identified; covering the travel and training costs for each participating technician; and evaluating both the quality and usefulness of the training.

Other activities of the FMTP include the publication and distribution of a quarterly newsletter with a circulation approaching a thousand; the maintenance of a web site to aid in increasing communication between transit maintenance employees and the FMTP; and a listserve developed to increase communication between not only transit employees and the FMTP, but also increase the communication between transit agencies, the FDOT, and others who are members of the listserve.

Although each state and region have different issues to address, obstacles to overcome, and various players that participate either directly or indirectly at every level of an organization, the FMTP can be a catalyst for other local, state, or regional programs to develop and promote consortium training of this sort. The goals of this project is to further the awareness of the need for increased levels of maintenance training and to provide information sharing and guidance for those states or regions who are ready to design a consortium training program for their areas. This is intended to be a multi-year program to assist local, regional and state governments become more aware of alternative training program opportunities and assist them in the design of programs for their own areas to address their specific needs.

III. Task Descriptions

Task 1 - Information/Technology Sharing

In this task, FMTP staff will work to increase the awareness of the benefits of consortium maintenance training through the positive experiences of the FMTP model. This will be done through the continual update of the current information systems available through the FMTP. Specifically, mailing lists will be continually updated and expanded to ensure effective outreach and distribution nationwide. Both the existing FMTP web site and the listserve will be continually monitored and updated. The web site and listserve will serve as a national clearinghouse for the exchange of best maintenance practices and library of relevant materials. CUTR staff will also participate more actively on national committees which address maintenance issues, such as those sponsored by the American Public Transportation Association (APTA); the Community Transportation Association of America (CTAA); and the Society for Automotive Engineers (SAE).

Task 2 - Awareness Campaign

This task will include additional public outreach activities including the development and distribution of a postcard to make maintenance professionals, department of transportation, and FTA staff members aware of the web site and the listserve. This postcard will be distributed to approximately one thousand individuals. CUTR will also design and distribute a brochure describing the FMTP and the opportunity available to other states, regions, and local governments to tap into the experience and expertise developed through the FMTP model. This brochure will be distributed to state departments of transportation, FTA regional offices, and FTA headquarters in Washington, D.C. In addition, brochures will be available for distribution at various conferences, workshops, etc.

Task 3 - Technical Assistance

In this task, the FMTP staff will provide technical assistance to other state DOTs, state transit associations, FTA regional staff persons, or others who wish to discuss the process for establishing a training consortium in their state or region or for those who would like to establish a consortium. This assistance can include presentations to state DOTs, at FTA regional workshops, or for local transit agencies in other states on the FMTP model. Staff will be able to assist these agencies with logistical issues, design considerations, survey instruments to identify the need for various training, information sharing, etc.

IV. Student Involvement

Graduate students will be used to monitor and update the web site and the listserve.

 

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