September 2023

A Note from the Directors

Welcome to the second anniversary issue of Pulse, Transit Workforce Center’s (TWC) e-newsletter. As we reflect on TWC’s accomplishments in its first two years of operation, we want to express our gratitude to those who make this work possible.

We thank the Federal Transit Administration for its trust in us to carry out the mission of assisting the industry as it recruits, hires, trains, and retains the diverse workforce needed now and into the future, and we greatly appreciate the congratulatory message from Deputy Administrator Veronica Vanterpool on this occasion. We also thank FTA Administrator Nuria Fernandez and Associate Administrator of the Office of Research, Demonstration, and Innovation Mary Leary for their ongoing support, and we extend that appreciation to the great FTA team working collaboratively with us to sustain and advance TWC’s mission. 

Then, there are our TWC team members who work tirelessly to move this important work forward, providing technical assistance, resources, and support for the industry and all its stakeholders across the country. One of the tremendous benefits of being part of this organization is having the opportunity to work with such a talented and committed team, and we cannot thank them enough for all they do. 

The Board of the International Transportation Learning Center has provided leadership that has sustained our organization and helped develop and execute plans for TWC. We thank all of them for their ongoing support. We also want to recognize the range of national, regional, and local organizations, some led by our Board members too numerous to list, that focus on public transportation and workforce development. We appreciate their willingness to share resources and to partner as we all work towards common goals. 

Finally, but most importantly, we want to thank those of you who work in the public transportation industry at every level. It is an honor and privilege to be able to support the critical work you do in moving people, communities, and the industry forward. We are fortunate to be able to work with and for you, and we are excited to continue and expand these relationships and our work together in the years ahead. 

Jack Clark

Executive Director

Xinge Wang

Deputy Director

Transit Workforce Center

Operated by the International Transportation Learning Center

Congratulatory message from Deputy Administrator Veronica Vanterpool on TWC's two-year anniversary.

TWC By the Numbers 

TWC Initiatives 

Transit Career Stories: Gwendolen Gibson

The first in a series of Transit Career Stories videos produced by TWC featuring frontline transit workers, this video provides a glimpse into the career of Gwendolen Gibson, a First-Class Rail Equipment Mechanic with the Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority (SEPTA) and a member of Transport Workers Union (TWU) Local 234.

The first TWC-produced video in the Transit Career Stories series featuring Gwendolen Gibson

Watch the video to see Gwen on site and to hear her thoughts about her work and career trajectory. Look out for an upcoming Transit Career Story featuring former bus operator and current ATU Mentorship and Apprenticeship Coordinator for IndyGo, Dionna McCane, on the TWC Blog.

Apprenticeship and ATTAIN

Over the last two years, the transit industry has made significant gains in establishing apprenticeship programs for frontline workers. As George Fields, Deputy General Manager for Human Resources at Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority notes, “Building out our apprenticeship programs helps us to answer the long-term training needs for the future of our workforce.” Amalgamated Transit Union’s Director of Workforce Development and Apprenticeships Jamaine Gibson adds, “Apprenticeship programs are the gold standard for training, career advancement, and turning what has often been considered to be just a job into a true profession.”  


These sentiments reflect some of the reasons why the number of apprenticeships continues to grow. TWC team members have provided a range of technical support services to agency, labor, and education partners seeking to establish apprenticeships. In addition, TWC’s American Transit Training and Apprenticeship Innovators Network (ATTAIN) has created a forum for agencies interested in apprenticeships and for those already operating apprenticeships to share knowledge. Once agencies develop apprenticeships and associated mentoring programs and see the benefits that result, they become knowledgeable advocates who can provide valued expertise to their industry peers. Read the post Transit Apprenticeship Gaining Momentum in the TWC Blog about specific apprenticeship programs’ development, ATTAIN, and newly developed TWC apprenticeship resources. 

Development of the BEB Familiarization Course 

After extensive development and piloting work, TWC has released a Battery Electric Bus Familiarization Course, designed to help strengthen transit workers’ skills and knowledge base on the basics of electric vehicle safety. The course contains assessments, demonstration videos, and exercises that allow participants to experience being around a BEB and its equipment.     

Instructor Laszlo Juhasz examining the back of a bus system during the MDOT & MTA BEB Familiarization Pilot 

The familiarization course was developed by TWC team members James Hall, John Schiavone, and Brandon Liu and initially drew upon content from a webinar series that the International Transportation Learning Center (ITLC) hosted with multiple original equipment manufacturers in 2020. They then reached out to local agencies to plan the recording of safety demonstrations with several model BEBs. In the final stages, key agencies volunteered to pilot and provide feedback on the final product. TWC thanks LA Metro (Los Angeles, CA), WMATA (Washington, D.C.), CapMetro (Austin, TX), DASH (Alexandria, VA), and MDOT-MTA (Baltimore, MD) for their time and contributions to this project.  

Access the course materials for the BEB Familiarization Course, and direct any questions to Brandon Liu at

Spotlight on Bus Operator Mentorship 


Over the past couple of years, many transit agencies have celebrated the establishment of operator mentorship programs, with a number of those mentorship programs included in apprenticeship programs. TWC has supported agencies in developing and maintaining these collaborative initiatives between labor and management as well as in nonunion settings between workers and management. In both environments, these mentorship programs have been proven to encourage retention and job satisfaction. 

IndyGo (Indianapolis) and its union partner Amalgamated Transit Union (ATU) Local 1070 have formed a successful labor-management partnership. Together they have developed a robust mentor program over the last two years in which each new operator is assigned a mentor to help navigate their first year. Through these pairings, mentees feel the support they need to bolster their confidence, allowing them to focus on developing the skills required to operate a bus and to interact with the public.  

A coach operator for 15 years with IndyGo, Paul Person described his experience with his new mentee after working with him for a few weeks. “He’s a young guy and I’m an older guy, and I like that dynamic. I can give him some experience if he needs help with anything. He can call me for anything any time of day. I’m here for him.” Person’s mentee, Gary Johnson, responded, “That’s what I need – knowing that I can just call somebody. That’s really been the biggest help.” 

The graduating class of coach operators and mentors from IndyGo's Coach Operator Graduation in August.

WMATA's first graduating class of mentors

Washington Metropolitan Transit Authority (WMATA) along with Amalgamated Transit Union (ATU) Local 689 have also partnered to create a mentorship program. A recent commencement ceremony was an important one for WMATA and ATU because it featured the graduation of seven new mentors who recently completed their mentor training. In the next stage of development, a full-scale mentor pilot program will eventually ensure every new operator is paired with a mentor upon graduation. Drawing on her experience as a WMATA bus operator for 20 years, Nakia Ennis stated that mentor programs are essential. “I think that we’re in need of this program. A lot of us here can say that we did not have this when we came in. We get hit with real-life stuff every single day. [There’s] no better person to come to [in order] to help [new bus operators] to make their way through.”  


After hearing IndyGo’s union mentor coordinator Dionna McCane present about IndyGo and ATU Local 1070’s program in a TWC webinar, Valerie Campo, Mentor Program Coordinator at Champaign-Urbana Mass Transit District reached out for guidance on developing MTD’s mentorship program. Even though MTD does not have a union, Dionna’s assistance was critical to Valerie’s program design. In addition to the positive and measurable impact on the mentees—in just one year of operation, MTD’s new employee retention rate has increased from 53.5% to 86.6%—Valerie emphasizes the positive impact of the program on the mentors and MTD generally. “Mentoring new employees is a form of leadership development for our more experienced operators and an opportunity for them to pass on their wisdom and expertise to a new generation,” said Valerie. “This program has had a wonderful impact on our overall organizational culture. I'm so grateful to Dionna for sharing her knowledge and to TWC for connecting us." 


A standardized, scalable mentorship training course is being developed by TWC that is drawn from some of the best examples of mentor programs within public transit and from similar industries. Stay tuned for more information as it becomes available.  


The quality of instructor-led training relies not only just on good content, but also on the skills of the trainer in conveying that content. To make the highest impact on engagement, learning, and retention, a trainer should understand how adults learn, have a toolkit full of engaging training techniques, and know how to authentically connect with an audience. Support of transit trainers is a main cornerstone of TWC’s work. 

In its two-years of operation, TWC has served trainers at more than 50 transit locations through technical assistance requests, webinars, workshops at conferences, and the long-tested week-long train-the-trainer program

What Train-the-Trainer participants are saying: 

  • “[The session] gave my teacher-brain the tune-up it needed after sitting under a tarp in the garage for six years.” 
  • “Both instructors were real, transparent, and very informative.”  
  • “Excellent course that provides the tools to become an effective trainer.” 

Attendees from the “Train-the-Trainer” (TtT) Level 1 sessions conducted by ITLC instructors in April at the Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority (SEPTA) in Philadelphia.

In the coming months, TWC has six more sessions planned. Four of them include TWC’s newer Train-the-Trainer Level 2, which builds on Level 1 by giving experienced trainers the skills to define, design, and develop an effective and engaging training course with accompanying courseware and assessments using established adult learning principles. Participants apply this new knowledge by developing materials for a course of their choosing, which will ultimately be taught at their location. This will be the first time the Level 2 program is delivered by way of TWC. 

To make the most out of the training you deliver, consider signing up for location-specific current or future trainings: 

TWC Blog Launch 

TWC is proud to announce the launch of the TWC Blog, a collaboration between the research and communications teams.  


The blog features a collection of transit career stories, research roundups, case studies on promising industry workforce initiatives, workforce data analysis, and other information and updates of interest to industry stakeholders. Keep track of the blog with our fresh entries, posted regularly, like the recent research post, Search with Success: Four Unique Ways to Use TWC’s Resource Center, or the inaugural Transit Career Stories post, Unbreakable Bond: An Apprentice Mechanic with the Drive to Succeed

Research Update 

Since TWC’s inception, its research team has worked to produce digestible and useful reports and information for industry stakeholders. The launch of the Transit Workforce Data Dashboard, which provides data visualizations about transit workforce characteristics and trends, marks a key accomplishment to that end. The team has undertaken case studies of innovative practices in transit workforce development, including a study examining childcare programs at several transit locations, Approaches to Childcare Support in the Transit Industry, and a soon-to-be-released study on Metro Transit’s Operators Engaging and Connecting Communities (OECC) Program. The research team has also built out theTWC Resource Center with a compilation of almost 250 resources on topics useful to transit workforce partners, including apprenticeship, recruitment, and diversity and inclusion. TWC provides on-demand research assistance through the TWC Helpdesk by responding to research inquiries from the industry on everything from zero-emission fleet transition progress, to local workforce statistics, to demographic data on frontline workers.  

FTA's National Workforce Development Strategic Plan 

On August 17th, the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) released the inaugural National Transit Workforce Development Strategic Plan. Led by the Transit Workforce Center (TWC), this plan was crafted in collaboration with FTA and a broad range of stakeholders, including transit agencies, labor unions, national transit associations, the U.S. Department of Labor, and the dedicated individuals who work in the transit industry. FTA's Deputy Administrator, Veronica Vanterpool, commended TWC for its pivotal role in shaping this groundbreaking initiative, emphasizing TWC’s commitment to shaping the future of the transit industry. 

Spanning a comprehensive six-year period from 2023 to 2028, this plan is geared toward tackling the pressing workforce challenges and opportunities that lie ahead within public transportation. It does so by pursuing six overarching industry goals: 

  • Worker Safety and Health: Make the workplace safe and healthy for workers and customers by establishing, strengthening, and expanding health and safety initiatives, training, and support. 
  • Workforce Investment: Invest in developing and training the workforce to support and achieve all goals, including investments promoting workforce diversity, equity, inclusion, accessibility, and belonging (DEIAB) in the workforce. 
  • Recruitment & Outreach: Make jobs more appealing by helping people learn about the value these jobs bring to communities and increasing recruitment and outreach activities from high school and later. 
  • Retention: Promote initiatives that retain a diverse workforce. 
  • Skills Development & Career Advancement: Ensure that workers receive the essential training and expertise encompassing both present-day technologies and upcoming advancements. Provide workers with accessible educational and training prospects that foster career advancement, including endeavors to cultivate a workforce that values DEIAB. 
  • Workforce Metrics: Enhance the availability of data on workforce development and establish measures to help the industry and its stakeholders make informed decisions. Ensure that data are collected to evaluate activities and outcomes related to DEIAB. 

These ambitious goals, each accompanied by strategic objectives, will serve as guiding principles for FTA's activities and investments. They will also inform TWC's technical assistance initiatives and focal points as they work collaboratively to support the transit industry in recruiting, retaining, and training the diverse workforce needed for today's challenges and tomorrow's opportunities. 

For queries or assistance with the plan's objectives, please contact TWC at Together, we can drive the transit industry toward a more prosperous and promising future. 

Out and About

TWC staff members frequently travel to industry events around the country to present, share resources, and engage with industry stakeholders. To request TWC's participation in an event, please send an email Here are some examples of where TWC staff have been and what they have been doing off-site over the summer: 

  • Maurice Beard and James Hall attended CUTR’s Florida Transit Safety and Operations Network Summit Meeting, where they led sessions on apprenticeship and workforce development. 
  • David Stephen presented on TWC’s national recruitment toolkit at the New Hampshire Transit Association & State Coordinating Council for Community Transportation’s annual conference in Concord, New Hampshire.  
  • At APTA’s 2023 Rail Conference in Pittsburgh, Jack Clark moderated a session on “Rail Apprenticeship Programs—East Coast/West Cost: Common Goals, Proven Approaches at the MTA NYCT and the Santa Clara VTA.” 
  • Jack Clark presented at the second meeting of the Zero Emission Bus (ZEB) Regional Subcommittee comprised of local transit agencies and transportation departments from the District of Columbia, Maryland, and Virginia. 
  • David Stephen shared resources and strategies in the National RTAP Successful Strategies for Hiring Rural and Tribal Transit Operators Webinar. 
  • James Hall and Brandon Liu delivered BEB Familiarization Course pilots at Alexandria Transit Company (DASH) in Virginia and at MDOT Maryland Transit Administration (MTA) Kirk Maintenance Facility in Baltimore to help frontline technicians on the basics and familiarization of BEBs.  
  • Pat Greenfield engaged in a plenary session dialogue on the power of labor-management partnerships as part of the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) and the National League of Cities’ "Good Jobs, Great Cities Academy" convening in Washington D.C. 
  • James Hall and Maurice Beard co-led a two-day course on electrical fundamentals and high voltage safety maintenance at the South West Transit Association (SWTA) Summer University Conference Series in Wichita, Kansas. 
  • Xinge Wang presented on the projects and services carried out by TWC and on ZEB workforce transition training at the Federal Transit Administration’s (FTA) 2023 Biennial State and Tribal Programs and Transit Partnerships Conference in Washington, D.C.  

Transit Workforce Center


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