Closing the Knowledge Gap for Transit Maintenance Employees

A Systems Approach

by David Finegold, Marc Robbins, Lionel A. Galway, Tessa Kaganoff

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This final report documents the findings of TCRP Project F-5. The project focused on identifying the challenges facing public transit maintenance in coping with new skill demands. The findings of the project are based on an industry-wide survey of North American bus and rail maintenance managers, which had a 54% response rate, six in-depth case studies of innovative transit agencies, and over 40 interviews with industry experts. Among the major results are that managers perceive a worsening skills gap, especially with the advent of new transit technologies; and that most agencies are ill-prepared to close this gap, with a limited in-house training capacity and poor links with external training suppliers. The authors were able to identify a number of agencies pursuing strategies to raise maintenance skills and/or improve work organization, including one property that achieved dramatic performance improvements by combining the introduction of self-managed teams with a modular training program and skill-based reward system. The report concludes with detailed guidelines to assist transit agencies and their local partners in creating higher-skilled, better-performing maintenance organizations, and a set of recommendations on how the federal government can support these reforms.

This report is part of the RAND Corporation Draft series. The unrestricted draft was a product of the RAND Corporation from 1993 to 2003 that represented preliminary or prepublication versions of other more formal RAND products for distribution to appropriate external audiences. The draft could be considered similar to an academic discussion paper. Although unrestricted drafts had been approved for circulation, they were not usually formally edited or peer reviewed.

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