Center Update

Center Report on Establishing a National Rail Vehicle Technician Qualification Program Now Available on TRB Website  

For the past five years, the Center has worked to establish a nationally recognized qualification system for rail vehicle technicians, as part of an effort to develop standards-based training for all frontline technical occupations in US public transportation.  This work was made possible by funding from the Transportation Research Board (TRB).   Project director Chris Jencks states "The development and implementation of new rail vehicle technologies in transit systems around the country have had profound effects. While these technologies have greatly benefited customers and agencies alike, they also have led to difficulties. The internal training capacity of the transit industry has had trouble keeping up with the pace of innovation, and it has become increasingly difficult to hire new external applicants with the specialized skills needed for the new equipment. Upgrading the skills of the workforce that maintains this new technology and developing a system that does this on an ongoing basis is of the utmost importance to the industry."

Key outcomes of this project include:
For more information, read TCRP Report 170 on TRB's website or contact Project Manager Mark Dysart.
Public Transportation
Brookings - July 29, 2014
Transportation infrastructure significantly contributes to a nation's prosperity by facilitating workers' access to employers, consumers' access to shopping and leisure activities, and firms' access to capital, labour and potential customers.
Roll Call - July 29, 2014
In the competition for urban transit funding, light rail and streetcars are winning and buses remain runners up.  Last week the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) celebrated the opening of the $196.5 million Sun Link Streetcar line in Tucson, Ariz., paid for in part by a $63 million Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) grant - a legacy of the 2009 stimulus act, and $19.7 million in other Department of Transportation money.  
City Lab - July 28, 2014
It substitutes for short trips in the core, and expands service on the outskirts.  Over the past few days, several New York media outlets have reported that Citi Bike, the city's popular but financially struggling bike-share system, will soon get a much-needed influx of cash. The new money would likely go toward improving docking stations and expanding the network to other parts of the city.  
Transit System/Partners
Associations Now - July 29, 2014
The Silver Line, a new addition to the Washington, DC, Metrorail system that opened over the weekend, gets the region one step closer to business travelers' dream-a direct connection from Dulles International Airport to the DC convention center or a downtown hotel via Metro.  Don't expect the Silver Line to fulfill that dream for a few years, though.
Labor News
Amalgamated Transit Union - July 30, 2014
Today marks a rebirth and reinvigorated commitment toeducation and progressive training for organized labor as the Amalgamated Transit Union (ATU) expands its long-standing union education and activism program to the newly acquired campus of the former National Labor College.  The National Labor College, founded in 1970 by AFL-CIO President George Meany, has been the home to the training of more than 200,000 labor and community leaders. It will now continue and expand on that great legacy as a school for labor, community and social justice leaders.
Working in These Times - July 23, 2014
For decades, the U.S. railroad industry has successfully shed labor costs by shifting to smaller and smaller operating crews. Now, it's on the verge of what was once an unthinkable victory: single-member crews, even on dangerous oil trains.
Labor Notes - July 21, 2014
A major climate change march in New York September 21 may be a tipping point for labor movement participation in global warming activism.  Climate initiatives are still controversial in the labor movement. But dozens of unions in New York, jarred by memories of Superstorm Sandy, have lined up to join the People's Climate March, planned to coincide with a United Nations summit that will draw world leaders to the city.  
The Nation - July 28, 2014
For years, the American labor movement has been on the defensive as it has become harder and harder for workers to join or maintain a union. But some House Democrats are planning a dramatic counter-offensive: a bill that would make union organizing a civil right.  Representatives Keith Ellison and John Lewis plan to introduce a bill Wednesday that would make labor organizing a basic freedom no different than freedom from racial discrimination.
Green News
Desert News - July 28, 2014
The Utah Transit Authority got a firsthand look Monday at one of the latest all-electric mass transit vehicles.  UTA is examining the bus and its charging technology manufactured by South Carolina-based Proterra Inc. for possible future use.  Executives with Proterra demonstrated the company's second-generation, 40-foot, zero-emission battery electric bus Monday. The vehicle uses technology that allows it to run 24 hours a day without refueling, eliminating all liquid fuel and tailpipe emissions.
Workforce Development
Wall Street Journal - July 22, 2014
President Barack Obama is again taking aim at the "skills gap" separating many unemployed workers from the companies that could hire them.  Mr. Obama, in his State of the Union address on Jan. 28, said he had asked Vice President Joe Biden "to lead an across-the-board reform of America's training programs to make sure they have one mission: Train Americans with the skills employers need, and match them to good jobs that need to be filled right now." 
Read the Entire Report
Jobs for the Future
In 2011, the Harvard Graduate School of Education released Pathways to Prosperity: Meeting the Challenge of Preparing Young Americans for the 21st Century. The report argued that our current education system was too narrowly focused on the goal of preparing all young people to pursue a four-year college or university degree immediately after high school, while other postsecondary routes to careers might suit significant numbers of students far better.
Building Transportation Infrastructure
Railway Track and Signal - July 25, 2014
The Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (LACMTA) Board of Directors voted nine to three to approve a $1.6-billion contract with Skanska, Traylor and Shea, a Joint Venture(STS), to construct the 3.9-mile first phase of the Purple Line Extension subway. The first phase, with a total budget of $2.7 billion, is currently forecast to open in 2023.  
Railway Age - July 22, 2014
The Seattle City Council on Monday, July 21, 2014, approved a First Avenue streetcar alignment that will seam together operations, the existing South Lake Union Streetcar and the similarly named First Hill streetcar, where construction has been nearly completed prior to the line's opening later this year.  The proposed unifying link was approved in an 8-to-1 vote. The project is expected to cost at least $110 million, and would operate in "transit-only" lanes in a median along First Avenue, unlike the other two streetcar segments.
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