ITLC Update
Workforce Training at DART – Hot Wires on Hot Days!
DART’s subject matter experts on the national Traction Power Training Consortium are certainly enthusiastic about developing quality training for their traction power frontline workforce. The group invited Amri Joyner, ITLC’s Project Coordinator for Technical Assistance and Training, for a two-day observation of training on energized catenary work, also known as “hot wire training.” Braving the 100-degree days in Dallas, overhead wire repair training started at 5:30 each morning at DART’s Central Rail Operations Facility. AVO Training Institute conducted the ten-day course (70 contact hours) under its contract with DART.
Upon completion of the course and lab practice, participants are expected to demonstrate that they are able to: explain the hazards and effects of electricity; interpret and apply hazardous energy control regulations as required by OSHA; outline the installation of temporary grounding for personal protection; utilize safe work practices for work on or around energized equipment; recognize appropriate PPE when working with energized catenary systems; identify requirements for good energized work procedures; and use appropriate techniques for use of insulating equipment.
Preparing to repair messenger support on 3-wire
head span
Safety briefing before working on overhead cables
At the invitation of Greg Richmond, AVO Training’s Director of Training Operations, Amri spent a couple of hours on a tour of the AVO Training and Megger Assembly and Testing Facility in Dallas. This trip was invaluable for ITLC staff to gain a deeper understanding of traction power work and its need for ongoing workforce training. Meeting the Traction Power Consortium subject matter experts at their places of work was the highlight of the trip.
Public Transit
ITS International – June 29, 2022
When addressed effectively, optimizing mobility encourages people to leave their cars at home and engage with public transit as a go-to, rather than as a last resort. This in turn brings ridership back, along with the revenue that agencies need to streamline systems and improve quality of life. In particular, the implementation of SaaS-based technology enables public authorities and transport providers to build, operate and scale affordable information-driven passenger experiences. For example, integrated payment solutions are appearing in communities across the country and beyond with services being designed to meet the needs of varying consumer demographics and requirements.
NPR – July 4, 2022
Despite record-high gas prices, people are not exactly flocking to public transit. Riders say they're still nervous about crowds and COVID. They're concerned about safety in general. Saul Gonzalez of member station KQED has a closer look at the sluggish return to mass transit.
The Virginian-Pilot – June 30, 2022
Polling by Yahoo/Maru released in May found that Americans had already made changes to their daily routine in response to the increased price of gasoline. Sixty-two percent said they had cut out some one-off trips for groceries or doctor visits; 41% said they stopped filling the tank to reduce the total cost; and 35% said they were utilizing mass transit more frequently. That would represent a substantial change in ridership, which has slipped precipitously over the last century. Nowadays, mass transit users tend to utilize those services out of necessity rather than choice, according to a 2017 survey by the American Public Transportation Association. Most ride to work or to school, many are minorities and the percentage who are low-income is smaller than one might think.
Eno Center for Transportation – July 2, 2022
Transportation agencies have been using a wide range of sources to monitor and forecast work trips. The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey (which operates the PATH trains) has been monitoring data about national office occupancy based on entry-card swipes at office buildings. Duncan Kisia, the Authority’s deputy director of planning and chief economist, says these swipes are a good barometer of how many people are going back to work. The most recent data shows office occupancy rates ranging from 35 percent in San Francisco to more than 55 percent in Austin and Houston.
Transit Partners
Mass Transit – June 30, 2022
The tentative agreement maintains all provisions of the existing union contract through November 2024 but includes wage increases. If approved, the new contract would provide for a 7.5 percent increase effective on Dec. 1, 2022, and a four percent increase effective on Dec. 1, 2023. TriMet says the raises are important, especially as the agency faces service cuts due to an historic operator shortage. 
Tampa Bay Times – June 30, 2022
Beset with rising costs and sagging ridership, the Pinellas Suncoast Transit Authority unveiled the first look at next year’s budget Wednesday. The $155.4 million budget for the 2023 financial year, bolstered by federal aid, is aimed at boosting ridership and moving the agency closer to its long-term sustainability goals. The budget also includes union wage increases making PSTA bus operators the highest paid in the state. Approximately $43.8 million of the budget is for capital expenses such as new, zero-emission buses. The capital budget through 2027 is a proposed $154.5 million, and the agency says it does not project any cuts to the number of routes offered in that period.
Health & Safety
The San Francisco Standard – July 5, 2022
Lai was sworn in during the early part of the COVID pandemic, which prompted a marked increase in reported hate crimes and discrimination against Asian Americans—locally and throughout the nation. As a new board member, an Asian American and a victim of violence on public transit, Lai pushed MTA to collect data on attacks against Asian and Pacific Islanders on its buses and trains. It took months, but her persistence paid off. 
Economic Issues
SF Gate – July 1, 2022
Spokespeople for Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon as well as the governor's office confirmed to SFGATE that the final budget won't provide three months of free public transit fares anymore. H.D. Palmer, a spokesperson for California's Department of Finance, said that the direct cash payments can go toward paying for public transit.
Upcoming Webinars
Urban Institute – July 12, 2:30 pm ET
Parents who work outside the home have always faced challenges finding high-quality, affordable child care that meets their needs. But the COVID-19 pandemic has had devastating consequences for the child care industry and parents’ attachment to the labor force. Closures or service reductions in child care programs, concerns about the spread of COVID-19 in child care settings, and a lack of supports constrained parents’ abilities to work or advance their careers and, in some cases, forced parents out of the labor force entirely. What are the long-term implications of child care challenges for workers, families, and the economy? How have these challenges exacerbated labor market inequalities and barriers to upward mobility? What solutions are needed for families and the economy to thrive, and what role should public policy, employer practices, and advocacy play in providing them. Join WorkRise to explore these critical questions and fixes through a dynamic convening of experts across the research, policy, business, and advocacy communities.
National Skills Coalition – July 14, 1:30 pm ET
Over the last five years, Walmart U.S. has been at the forefront of employer investment in skills-based hiring, upskilling, and reskilling. The company has put digital devices in the hands of 740,000 employees; implemented new approaches to digital skill development; and launched Live Better U, which allows associates to earn a high school diploma, vocational certificate, or college degree 100% tuition free. On the next Fireside Chat, Walmart U.S. President and CEO John Furner will join NSC CEO Andy Van Kleunen and a panel of thought leaders for a dynamic conversation about employer investments in talent development. They'll discuss talent investment across different industries, and how large corporations as well as small and mid-sized companies are partnering with policymakers to invest in the skills of their workforce to adapt to constantly evolving technology.

National Skills Coalition – July 21, 11:00 am ET
Despite the urgent need for workers, many businesses are unable to hire individuals seeking work because applicants lack equitable access to necessary workforce education and training. States play an important role in creating inclusive and equitable workforce systems by ensuring all jobseekers can access high quality training, good jobs, and career pathways. To advance equity, workforce systems should examine institutional structures and barriers to participation that contribute to employment and economic disparities. This panel will share what it takes to understand structural and systemic barriers; intentionally engage community partners; center worker and business voices in shaping policies and programs; and align programs and resources that support the whole person in training for and advancing in a career.
International Transportation Learning Center