Question 8

Identify how training needs will be paid for.

Best Practices:

In approaching the question of how to pay for the needed training in the workforce transition plan, an agency should establish a reasonable estimate of how much the ZEB transition training will cost. For agency provided in-house training, considerations should be given to at least the following items:

  • Classroom training hours
  • Instructor hours (instruction and prep)
  • Instructor hourly wages and benefits
  • Instructor costs per class
  • Instructor cost per trainee
  • OJL training hours
  • Mentor hours
  • Mentor hourly cost
  • Mentor cost per trainee
  • Facilities cost
  • Training materials/mock-ups/software/simulation cost

For example, assuming an electrical and ZEB fundamentals training program consists of 120 hours of classroom instruction and 950 hours of On-the-Job Learning, the cost to locally train one bus technician is in the ballpark of $10,000, factoring in only instructor wages and benefits and mentor pay. Based on the skills gap analysis, an agency would be able to estimate the number of bus technicians that need to go through the program. In addition, agencies should factor in costs for training mock-ups, software, simulations, and facilities.

Additionally, agencies might contact other locations with more experience on ZEBs.  APTA’s Zero Emission Bus Committee and Workforce Development Committee, Community Transportation Association of America (CTAA), Zero Emission Bus Resource Alliance (ZEBRA), West Coast Center of Excellence, and Midwest Hydrogen Center of Excellence are all great starting points to connect with other agencies. In reaching out to locations that have more ZEBs operating, a number of questions can be asked. How much did their training cost?  How well did it work?  Did the bus manufacturer provide the quality of training expected and needed? Did the agency engage any third-party trainer or consultant on the training? Are there training modules developed that can be shared? From the lessons learned to date in the implementation, what would trainers advise for an agency starting now? 

Once the estimated costs are established, an agency can take advantage of some potential funding built into the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law to pay for the training. Federal public transportation law permits FTA recipients to use up to 0.5 percent of grant funds received under the urbanized area program, state of good repair program, and bus and bus facilities program for workforce development activities eligible under 49 U.S.C. 5314(b), including on-the-job training, labor-management partnership training, and registered apprenticeships, and an additional 0.5 percent for costs associated with training at the National Transit Institute.

The Bipartisan Infrastructure Law also amended 49 U.S.C. 5339 to require that applicants for competitive Bus and Bus Facilities Program or Low and No Emissions Program funding for projects related to zero-emission vehicles must use 5 percent of the Federal award for workforce development to retrain the existing workforce and develop the workforce of the future, including registered apprenticeships and other joint labor-management training programs, unless the recipient certifies via the application that less funding is needed to carry out the Plan.

Additional funds for training may be available through state or local agencies. State and local workforce investment boards can fund training incumbent workers; those same boards regularly fund training programs that result in well-paying jobs for displaced workers or economically disadvantaged youth or adults. In California, funds for training specifically on low and zero emission buses are available through the California Air Resources Board. Other states may develop similar capacity to help speed the transition to no emission public transportation.

Additional Resources:


  • TCRP: A National Training and Certification Program for Transit Vehicle Maintenance Instructors
    Summary: TRB’s Transit Cooperative Research Program (TCRP) Report 178: A National Training and Certification Program for Transit Vehicle Maintenance Instructors provides a proposed national program structure and plan for training and certifying transit bus and rail maintenance instructors. The report also provides best practices used in the public and private sectors to prepare and certify technical instructors, as well as the attributes and instructional delivery methods found most effective for maintenance instructors.
  • CTE and AECOM: Mountain Line Zero-Emission Bus Implementation Plan
    Summary: The Northern Arizona intergovernmental Public Transportation Authority (referred to as Mountain Line) contracted with the Center for Transportation and the Environment (CTE) to develop a Zero-Emission Bus (ZEB) Transition Plan to identify a zero-emission roadmap for full-scale deployment.
  • CTE and AECOM: MTS Zero-Emission Bus Fleet Transition Study
    Summary: MTS engaged the Center for Transportation and the Environment (CTE) to perform a zero-emission bus (ZEB) transition study in March 2018. The study’s goal is to create a plan for a 100% zero-emission fleet by 2040 to be in compliance with the Innovative Clean Transit (ICT) regulation enacted by the California Air Resources Board (CARB). The results of the study will be used to inform MTS Board members and educate MTS staff of estimated costs, benefits, constraints, and risks to guide future planning and decision making.



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