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American Public Transportation Association

 Workforce Development Partners - Regional Professional Development Programs

Purpose and Overview

This page is designed to help transit audiences understand the workforce development programs developed by our regional partner agencies. The examples listed below range from frontline worker development resources and executive programs, to strategies for overall employee retainment. These resources are provided both as a sample of the opportunities available to transit workers, and as model programs for agencies attempting to develop their own training and development initiatives. The valuable local and regional programs detailed in the links below demonstrate our industry-wide commitment to developing the transportation workforce. Contact information is provided for each of the programs listed. If your agency has a model training program not listed on our site, please contact Educational Services Program Manager, Brandon Roccio, at broccio@apta.com to let us know more. APTA members can click any of the links below for additional details and contact information.

Senior Leadership Courses & Programs​

Executive Leadership Training Program (Chicago Transit Authority)
This executive leadership program builds competencies among executives 1-2 levels below an agency CEO, and prepares them to potentially run their own transit agencies. The program is taught in a series of 5-day gatherings every 2-4 months in coordination with other transit agencies.

Leadership Development Academy (Orange County Transportation Authority)
A yearlong program taught in monthly daylong sessions, modelled on Leadership APTA and other executive training initiatives. The program focuses on innovation and broad strategic planning that takes into account the needs of all organizational departments.

​MAX Program (Los Angeles Metro, Regional Transportation District--Denver, Utah Transit Authority, Dallas Area Rapid Transit)
The Transit Leadership Exchange, co-taught with Eno Center for Transportation, ia  program in which teams of executives visit facilities of participating agencies to exchange tips, and observe how their operations.​

Midwest Transit Leadership Exchange (Various agencies)
Agencies such as Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority, the New York MTA, and several Pennsylvania agencies exchange leaderships, and meet at the facilities of various participating agencies in order to discuss best practices and build relationships for future collaboration.

Manager and Supervisor Training​

Certification and Degree Program (Bay Area Rapid Transit)
A partnership with local universities in which individuals working for BART can choose to take courses in management and be granted the certifications they need to move up within the agency.

Lean Program (Pierce Transit)
​Based off Lean maintenance philosophy stressing efficiency and innovative, flexible solutions. Basic course includes an introduction to Lean theory followed by practical applications. Additional offerings include a Leadership course with similar content, but a focus on supporting frontline employees, and a Green Belt program in which trainees learn more about Lean philosophy, and implement it in an individual program designed to improve Pierce Transit's efficiency.

Monthly Course Calendar (Chicago Transit Authority)
A new set of workshops are offered each month for comprehensive programming year round. Employees can register for courses in the following categories: Professional Development, Learn and Lead, Health and Safety (Both required and supplemental), and Technical (e.g. Microsoft Office skills).

Manager in Training Program (Chicago Transit Authority)
This is a 10-month program, taught one weekend a month by a local college faculty. The programs focus is aimed at teaching entry-level managers how different departments function within the organization.

Manager and Supervisor Training (King County Transit)
A 5-6 month program aimed at entry-level managers. The training combines classroom sessions, individual projects, and 1-1 coaching to effectively develop the talents of new first-level managers.

Management Development Academy (Orange County Transportation Authority)
​Smaller-scale version of Leadership Development Academy detailed above, taught over the course of 8 monthly 5-hour sessions. The program focuses on leadership skills and how to motivate a team of employees.

Metro Leadership Academy (Los Angeles Metro)
A yearlong program taught through a partnership with a local community college. The program teaches management skills and provides an opportunity to learn skills that would be needed to excel in higher-level positions.

Public Transit Management Academy (Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority)
A multi-session program offered to employees at all levels of GCRTA who have shown initiative in order to teach management skills and prepare them for potential future promotions.

​"SuperTrain" Management Training (Orange County Transportation Authority):
A 7 module program offered to new and aspiring supervisors. This open-enrollment program focuses on management skills such as team building and goal setting.

​Talent Management Program (Pierce Transit)
New talent management software has enabled more effective talent management. Applicant pools can be sorted automatically by different competencies and skills, 4 classes per cycle are offered to improve skills which are then automatically tracked and incorporated into planning.

Santa Monica Institute (Santa Monica Big Blue Bus)
This citywide, cross-department program run by the City of Santa Monica, offers a 10-week program of courses to both frontline and staff employees, most of whom enroll in at least one course a year. These courses include both mandatory training and optional development programs.

San Mateo Research, Training, and Development Consortium (San Mateo County Transit)
Countywide system, not specific to transit, which has 3 academies for workers, supervisors, and leaders within San Mateo County agencies. These semester-based courses include general professional development skills such as management and emotional intelligence, while bus operators have a specific program.

Succession Management (King County Transit)
A program specializing in the development and support of first and second line managerial careers. It provides professional development with the aim of helping them eventually get promoted to higher positions within the agency.

Succession Planning Program (Orange County Transportation Authority)
A program in which managers examine specific competencies that the OCTA needs, and creates development plans to ensure that OCTA provides proper succesion training to people to these specific competencies.

Soft and Hard Skills Training (Bay Area Rapid Transit)
Training in both workplace and technical skills offered year-round by BART for the past 3 years. Enrollment is optional.

Supervisory Training and Education Program (Santa Monica Big Blue Bus)
This program was designed to allow frontline employees to stand in as temporary managers and gain valuable experience which could eventually be lead to full time promotions in theses roles. Either within BBB or at another agency or organization.

University of the Pacific Transit and Paratransit Maintenance Course (San Mateo County Transit)
Course initially offered by UoP, now taught in-house by San Mateo County Transit focusing on managing bus operations. This course consists of 8-9 sessions held every two weeks. Its framework is based around the Next Gen Leader program.

Emerging Professionals

Lean Program (Pierce Transit)
​See above.

Manager in Training Program (Chicago Transit Authority)
See above.

​Management Development Program (Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority)
25-month rotation for recent college graduates who are interested in transit. The program allows graduates to learn about different aspects of the organization and explore the possibility of working at GCRTA or another agency.

Mentorship Program (Orange County Transportation Authority)
An optional program for administrative employees. Newer employees are paired with senior mentors who meet monthly over the course of a year, after which there is a "graduation" ceremony for mentees.

Frontline Training​

Apprenticeship Program (King County Transit)
Small, longstanding program that provides extended training to employees who want to become journey-level mechanics.  Usually offered to those who clean  buses and other equipment, as it serves as a pathway to higher wages.

Apprenticeship and Upgrade Programs (Bay Area Rapid Transit)
A certification and on-the job training program BART provides to many of its frontline workers, especially those in technical maintenance positions

Bus Safety and Training (Pierce Transit)
Programs designed to quickly train and prepare new operators. The program includes several days of onboarding, roughly a month of training, followed by a mentorship program in which new operators are paired with those who have more experience on particular routes. The program also offers CDL training for potential operators without a CDL license.

​Career Development Program (King County Transit)
King County currently has one staff member who has one-on-one meetings with frontline employees to discuss further professional development. The program is extremely popular, and they are currently working on expanding it to serve additional staff.

Career Pathways Program (Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority)
Partnership with local community colleges and nonprofits to provide a 12-week training program and internship for potential frontline maintenance and operations employees.

​Career Pathways Program (Los Angeles Metro)
​A program in which employees are provided career guidance throughout their tenures at LA Metro and encouraged to apply to higher level positions or those in other departments, as well as receiving training and management supervision.

Joint Apprenticeship Committee (Los Angeles Metro)
A rail maintenance program designed to train new mechanics who replace those expected to retire. The program is taught through a partnership with a local community college.

Maintenance Training (Pierce Transit)
Journey-level program aimed at mechanics with previous experience, focused on specific skills such as forklift maintenance and working with new electric buses. The program also includes Mech 1 certification for less experienced maintenance staff.

Mentoring Program (King County Transit)
This 4-6 month program is offered to hourly frontline staff. Staff are paired with a mentor and given a book of home exercises to guide their professional development.

Lean Program (Pierce Transit)
See above.

Rail Car Apprenticeship Program (Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority)
This 30-month program includes both a full apprenticeship to learn rail maintenance skills, and extensive training opportunities to aid in participants' professional development.

Second Chance Program (Chicago Transit Authority)
A year-long program designed to offer training and experience to Chicago residents facing barriers to employment. The program includes both work experience and specific training courses in operations and maintenance.

Southern California Regional Transit Training Consortium (Many agencies, including: LA Metro, Big Blue Bus, Long Beach Transit, Orange County Transit, etc.)
Consortium of agencies that cooperate on maintenance and technical training courses. Consortium contracts with training groups to develop courses and train future trainers from various member agencies and local colleges. These new trainers then offer the courses to all consortium members through their home agency or college, and helps fill these course spots.

Santa Monica Institute (Santa Monica Big Blue Bus)
See above.

Transit Careers Ladders Training (Bay Area Rapid Transit)
An FTA grant-funded program in which BART provides training to those looking to work in the electrical and technical aspects of transit.
Career Pathways Program (Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority)
See above.

College Internship Program (Chicago Transit Authority)
A seasonal program offered in the spring, summer, and fall for college students at the undergraduate and graduate levels. Interns work 15-20 hours a week on projects for specific departments within the agency.

Intern Development Academy (Orange County Transportation Authority)
A series of modules on professional development and the transit industry taught to college interns over the course of several weeks. It provides networking and career building opportunities, as well as direct training from panelists.

Internship Program (Santa Monica Big Blue Bus)
This program is run by the City of Santa Monica, and places college-age interns in various agency departments. Big Blue bus has up to six interns at any time working in different capacities.

One Summer Chicago (Chicago Transit Authority)
A summer program for high school juniors and seniors in which students spend 4 days a week within various departments, and 1 day of the week gaining training in the area of professional development. Students have the opportunity to meet with agency leaders and executives within the CTA.

​Summer High School Intern Program (Orange County Transportation Authority)
A modified version of the Intern Development Academy listed above, designed to serve high school students. College-age interns are included in the program as mentors and panelists.

Vocational Training (Chicago Transit Authority)
A 7-week program in partnership with high schools that offer technical and maintenance training. Students receiving theoretical training through their school are given practical experience working with CTA maintenance staff.
Quarterly Networking Events (Chicago Transit Authority)
Quarterly events to provide professional opportunities to staff, including both networking events and resume trainings, as well as various workshops on various aspects of the transit industry.

​Annual Survey and Employee Feedback (Pierce Transit)
A yearly survey, supplemented by quarterly meetings in which Pierce Transit gathers worker feedback and weekly updates from the agency CEO. Currently looking for more feedback ideas that do not rely on email contact with workers, including terminals for feedback at work.

Engagement Survey (Orange County Transportation Authority)
A survey of administrative employees focusing on eleven key drivers of employment, with plans to be repeated regularly in order to survey general employee morale and organizational​ culture.

Employee Recognition Programs (Pierce Transit)
Programs include: A daylong program honoring operators and frontline staff, and an "Operator of the Month" program honoring outstanding work, rewards, and recognition for employees with good performance.

Employee Promo ability Program (Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority)
A training program focusing on job search and professional skills such as resume writing, interview skills, and similar competencies.

Social Media Recruitment Campaign (Blacksburg Transit)
Blacksburg Transit massively increased the number of applications to be a bus operator through a digital advertising campaign based primarily on Facebook. Different campaigns and language were used to specifically target millennials, mid-career workers, and retirees.

PT Pro E-Learning (Pierce Transit)
An online portal to courses which include both mandatory (e.g. OSHA) trainings and optional other courses for management training. Many of Pierce's other programs, including management and Lean training, are offered and managed through this platform, which serves employees from frontline workers to executives.

Other Transit Training

We encourage APTA members to review the range of trainings and professional development opportunities provided by some of our industry partners and colleagues. Below are several other national organizations who provide additional programs in these areas:

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