SEATTLE, WASHINGTON (October 10, 2022)Public transportation providers across North America face a shortage of operators and mechanics during a period of economic instability and reshuffling exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic. In order for the public transportation industry to better understand the workforce shortage’s causes and provide best practices for recruiting, hiring, and retaining transit operations workers, the American Public Transportation Association (APTA) has produced a new report entitled Transit Workforce Shortage: Root Causes, Potential Solutions, and the Road Ahead. This new study not only outlines the nature and severity of the transit workforce shortage, but the report also highlights what agencies and the industry can do to deal with these workforce issues by combining background research and the results from surveys of public transit agencies.

“Like almost every industry, public transportation is facing a severe shortage of skilled workers, hindering our ability to best serve our communities. This shortage is complex, multifaceted, and connected to changes in the broader culture and economy,” said APTA President and CEO Paul P. Skoutelas. “This workforce shortage is the confluence of multiple factors and successfully responding to it will involve a comprehensive approach.”

Data regarding the transit workforce shortage is stark, showing the issue to be widespread and severe. Ninety-six percent of agencies surveyed reported experiencing a workforce shortage, 84 percent of which said the shortage is affecting their ability to provide service. Although the shortage is most acute at agencies serving large urbanized areas and agencies with greater ridership, most agencies across the country report the shortage has forced service reductions regardless of the size of an agency’s ridership, service area population, or fleet.

The report’s initial findings point to a variety of steps transit agencies and their partners can take now to begin easing the workforce shortage in the short term, and to building a more resilient workforce development program in the long term. These actions will have short- and long-term benefits for workforce development and include:

  • Increase compensation
  • Improve worker schedules
  • Create a positive work environment
  • Demonstrate a clear path to promotions or raises
  • Ensure worker safety
  • Providing ongoing training
  • Increase hiring practice effectiveness
  • Increase recruiting practice effectiveness

The Transit Workforce Shortage study is Phase 1 in APTA’s continuing research efforts surrounding this persistent and pervasive issue. Gaps identified in the knowledge of the ongoing workforce shortage will be filled in Phase 2 through agency case studies and frontline worker surveys.


The American Public Transportation Association (APTA) is a nonprofit international association of 1,500 public- and private-sector organizations which represent a $80 billion industry that directly employs 448,000 people and supports millions of private sector jobs. APTA members are engaged in the areas of bus, paratransit, light rail, commuter rail, subways, waterborne services, and intercity and high-speed passenger rail. This includes: transit systems; planning, design, construction, and finance firms; product and service providers; academic institutions; transit associations and state departments of transportation. APTA is the only association in North America that represents all modes of public transportation. APTA members serve the public interest by providing safe, efficient and economical transit services and products.                      

Print Friendly, PDF & Email