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Van Hollen, Brown Reintroduce Bicameral Legislation to Invest in Transit Workforce Training

Bill would establish a National Transit Frontline Training Center for Safety, Training, and Development to close nationwide skills gap in transit industry

The National Transit Frontline Training Center will work with experts to train workers in the latest technologies as more transit systems are adding electric and hybrid vehicles. The Center will also help both rural and urban transit systems and award grants to nonprofit organizations to develop and provide transit career programs through partnerships and apprenticeships nationwide.

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) and U.S. Representative Anthony Brown (D-Md.) have reintroduced the National Transit Frontline Workforce Training Act, legislation to establish a national training center to help meet the need for highly skilled workers in the transit industry’s maintenance and operations occupations. The legislation will provide more American workers with the skills to obtain good-paying, in-demand jobs in the transit industry. Closing this skills gap – and growing the pool of qualified applicants – is especially important to our national capital region, where transit systems like WMATA and MTA are vital to commuters and visitors alike. This legislation is cosponsored by Senator Ben Cardin (D-Md.).

The National Transit Frontline Training Center will work with experts to train workers in the latest technologies as more transit systems are adding electric and hybrid vehicles. The Center will also help both rural and urban transit systems and award grants to nonprofit organizations to develop and provide transit career programs through partnerships and apprenticeships nationwide.

“Public transportation is critical to Marylanders – whether it’s helping our essential workers arrive on the front lines or making sure our local workforce can get where they need to go as we work to safely reopen. This legislation will not only provide new skills and training to Americans seeking jobs, it will also ensure that our transit workforce is well-trained and fully-staffed to allow for a safer, more reliable, and more efficient service to commuters,” said Senator Van Hollen.

“Our frontline transportation workers have made extraordinary sacrifices in order to keep this country moving forward during the coronavirus pandemic. Their efforts have helped get essential workers to their jobs, transported vital supplies, and continued to connect our communities,” said Congressman Brown. “As we begin our nationwide economic recovery, transportation workers will be critical to our efforts. Creating a National Transit Frontline Training Center will ensure these essential jobs remain filled with well-trained employees and give them the education and best-practices they need to stay safe on the job.”  

“Investing in our workforce will be critical as we look to rebuild our infrastructure,” said Senator Cardin, Chair of the Senate Transportation and Infrastructure Subcommittee (EPW). “Building back better means not only the projects we need to construct in areas such as transportation. It means helping people and communities take advantage of these projects and expanding opportunities for them to participate in the building, maintaining, and operating all of these systems. I am proud to join my colleague in introducing a bill that recognizes the important work we need to do in preparing our workers for the jobs of tomorrow.”

The National Transit Frontline Workforce Training Act is supported by the Amalgamated Transit Union (ATU), American Public Transportation Association (APTA), Transport Workers Union (TWU), and the Transportation Trades Department of AFL-CIO (TTD). 

“The National Transit Frontline Workforce Training Act is long overdue. Technology in the transit industry is rapidly evolving. Entire fleets are already changing over to electric vehicles. We need to ensure the frontline hero transit workers, who are risking their lives to provide critical transportation during the pandemic, have the proper training to safely maintain and operate these buses.  This bill would create a national training center for transit employees where workers will get the skills needed to keep up with new technology. The ATU is grateful for Senator Chris Van Hollen and Representative Anthony Brown for introducing this groundbreaking legislation,” said John A. Costa, President of ATU.

“On behalf of the American Public Transportation Association (APTA),  I want to thank Senator Van Hollen and Representative Brown for their leadership in crafting the “National Transit Frontline Workforce Training Act of 2021,” said Paul P. Skoutelas, President and CEO of APTA. “This legislation recognizes our essential frontline employees and the importance of labor-management training partnerships. We look forward to addressing this and other critical issues in infrastructure legislation later this spring.”

“Over the past year, frontline transit workers have shown that they are the heart of our transportation systems. The National Transit Frontline Workforce Training Act will ensure that these workers have the tools they need to get through the pandemic and are fully prepared for the challenges ahead. This investment in the next generation of transit will be key to returning our country to prosperity. The TWU is grateful to Senator Van Hollen and Representative Brown for leading this effort on behalf of our frontline essential workers,” said John Samuelsen, President of TWU.

“On behalf of the Transportation Trades Department, AFL-CIO (TTD), I want to thank Senator Van Hollen for reintroducing the National Transit Frontline Workforce Training Act,” said Greg Regan, President of the Transportation Trades Department, AFL-CIO. “Our public transit systems and the frontline workers who operate and maintain it are facing challenges like never before. The devastating effects of the pandemic and the implementation of new technologies like battery-electric buses only compound the already unmet training needs that have harmed workers in this industry for years. We commend Senator Van Hollen for ensuring that frontline transit workers will have the tools they need to gain the skills and training necessary to run the public transportation systems of the future.”

Background:

The National Transit Frontline Training Center will award grants to a nonprofit organization with a demonstrated capacity to develop and provide transit career ladder programs through labor-management partnerships and apprenticeships on a nationwide basis. The Center, in coordination with the Federal Transit Administration and public transportation authorities, will develop and conduct training and educational programs for frontline local transportation employees engaged in Government-aid public transportation work. Along with establishing national standards for transit maintenance and operations skills, the new Center would provide training to local transit operators in both rural and urban transit systems. 

The full text of the bill is available here.

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