Center Addresses Workforce Issues and Training for Battery Electric Busses at APTA Mobility Conf.

Posted May 2019

The Center’s Karitsa Holdzkom and John Schiavone attended the APTA Mobility Conference in Louisville, May 19-22. John addressed the Clean Propulsion Committee, emphasizing that the move to battery electric buses (BEBs) combined with the proliferation of advanced electrical and electronic (E/E) bus equipment has underscored the lack of general E/E skills that exists among transit technicians. A training manager from a large agency estimated that only a small number of their technicians could use a digital volt ohm meter, an essential tool for diagnosing E/E related faults. To help mitigate this issue and better prepare technicians for BEBs, John suggested a three phase approach. First would be an online, distance-based introductory course generic to all BEB. The course would serve to overview the technology and inform technicians of the skills needed to safely and effectively maintain and repair these buses. Phase 2 would also be a web-based course that would provide more detailed BEB and E/E training with a strong emphasis on hands-on and on-the-job learning. John suggested the industry should collaborate to provide the needed resources in both training phases, noting that much of this training material already exists but needs to be reformatted into more interactive presentations suited for younger learners. Phase 3 would then be OEM specific training where student technicians would already have a solid understanding of the basics.

At APTA’s Workforce Development Committee meeting John noted that bus maintenance is suffering from an acute shortage of technicians, and finding qualified replacements has proven increasingly difficult, which places a greater emphasis on training. A bus maintenance apprenticeship program sponsored by the Department of Labor and organized by the Center can help agencies grow their own technicians to help alleviate the shortage through mentor-led OJT. John emphasized similar training points at APTA’s Bus Maintenance Technical Committee meeting.

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