oversight

Transit Workforce Development: Improved Strategic Planning Practices Could Enhance FTA Efforts

Published by the Government Accountability Office on 2019-03-14.

Below is a raw (and likely hideous) rendition of the original report. (PDF)

             United States Government Accountability Office
             Report to the Committee on Banking,
             Housing, and Urban Affairs, U.S. Senate




             TRANSIT
March 2019




             WORKFORCE
             DEVELOPMENT

             Improved Strategic
             Planning Practices
             Could Enhance FTA
             Efforts




GAO-19-290
                                               March 2019

                                               TRANSIT WORKFORCE DEVELOPMENT
                                               Improved Strategic Planning Practices Could
                                               Enhance FTA Efforts
Highlights of GAO-19-290, a report to the
Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban
Affairs, U.S. Senate




Why GAO Did This Study                         What GAO Found
FTA provides more than $12 billion             The nation’s transit infrastructure requires a trained workforce, consisting of a
annually to support and expand transit         variety of occupations (see figure), to operate, maintain, and oversee it.
services. The operation of transit
systems depends on a skilled, qualified        Examples of Transit Occupations
workforce, but impending transit
worker retirements and advances in
transit technology may create
challenges for the transit workforce
such as finding eligible applicants for
transit jobs and obtaining the
technology expertise needed.
GAO was asked to review various
issues related to the sufficiency of the
transit workforce. This report discusses
the extent to which: (1) information
exists about future transit workforce
needs and (2) FTA assists with
addressing current and future transit
workforce needs, among other things.
GAO reviewed DOT and FTA                       Information on future transit workforce needs is limited in part by the absence of
documents, including strategic and             transit-specific workforce projections. According to Federal Transit Administration
performance plans, and interviewed             (FTA) officials, the best information available is an August 2015 report developed
DOT and FTA officials and other transit        by the Department of Transportation (DOT) and other federal stakeholders to
stakeholders, including representatives        produce transportation job projections. However, the report’s transit data are
of transit agencies, research                  combined with ground passenger transportation data (e.g., school buses, taxis),
organizations, and unions.                     and many of these services are specifically excluded from the statutory definition
Stakeholders were selected based on            of transit. Transit-specific data were not available and would be costly to obtain,
recommendations from other transit             according to the researchers who wrote the report. Thus, the report does not
stakeholders and for geographic                exclusively reflect the transit workforce. The views of stakeholders GAO
diversity, among other factors.                interviewed varied regarding whether additional workforce data were needed.
What GAO Recommends                            Working with stakeholders to understand what, if any, additional information is
                                               needed could enable FTA to weigh the complete costs and benefits of
GAO is making three                            developing future transit workforce data. This approach could also enable FTA to
recommendations to FTA: (1) in                 make informed decisions on allocating the appropriate resources toward transit
collaboration with stakeholders,               workforce efforts.
determine whether additional transit
workforce data are needed; (2)                 While FTA assists transit stakeholders with addressing workforce needs—for
develop a comprehensive transit                example, providing about $29 million in workforce development assistance in
workforce strategy; and (3) develop            fiscal year 2017—it lacks key strategic planning practices that could ensure its
performance goals and measures for             efforts are effective. FTA first reported to Congress in 2016 that it planned to
FTA’s transit workforce development            develop a transit workforce strategic plan; however, no clear action has been
efforts. DOT concurred with our                taken to develop one so far. Further, FTA does not have clearly defined
recommendations.                               performance goals and measures—as outlined in the Government Performance
                                               and Results Act of 1993 (GPRA) and the GPRA Modernization Act of 2010—for
                                               FTA’s transit workforce development efforts. Without these key strategic
View GAO-19-290. For more information,         planning practices, FTA is limited in its ability to make informed decisions about
contact Mark Goldstein, at (202) 512-2834 or   effectively leveraging its resources to address future transit workforce needs and
goldsteinm@gao.gov.                            in measuring the effectiveness of its efforts.

                                                                                        United States Government Accountability Office
Contents


Letter                                                                                    1
               Background                                                                 3
               Limited Information Exists on Future Transit Workforce Needs               8
               Selected Transit Stakeholders Are Taking Steps to Address
                 Transit Workforce Needs and Cited Ongoing Recruiting and
                 Retention Challenges                                                   12
               FTA Helps Address Transit Workforce Needs, but Improved
                 Strategic Planning Could Better Focus Assistance                       16
               Conclusions                                                              22
               Recommendations for Executive Action                                     22
               Agency Comments                                                          23

Appendix I     Objectives, Scope, and Methodology                                       24



Appendix II    Comments from the Department of Transportation                           28



Appendix III   GAO Contact and Staff Acknowledgments                                    30


Table
               Table 1: Examples of Challenges That Selected Transit
                       Stakeholders Cited in Recruiting and Retaining Transit
                       Workers (2018)                                                   15

Figure
               Figure 1: Examples of Transit Occupations                                  5




               Page i                                           GAO-19-290 Transit Workforce
Abbreviations

ADA               Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990
APTA              American Public Transportation Association
BLS               Bureau of Labor Statistics
CDL               commercial driver’s license
DOL               Department of Labor
DOT               Department of Transportation
FAST Act          Fixing America’s Surface Transportation Act
FTA               Federal Transit Administration
GPRA              Government Performance and Results Act of 1993
NTD               National Transit Database
NTI               National Transit Institute




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Page ii                                                      GAO-19-290 Transit Workforce
                       Letter




441 G St. N.W.
Washington, DC 20548




                       March 14, 2019

                       The Honorable Mike Crapo
                       Chairman
                       The Honorable Sherrod Brown
                       Ranking Member
                       Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs
                       United States Senate

                       Since 1964, the Department of Transportation’s (DOT) Federal Transit
                       Administration (FTA) has partnered with state and local governments to
                       create and enhance transit systems, providing more than $12 billion
                       annually to support and expand rail, bus, trolley, ferry, and other public
                       transit services. The operation of the nation’s transit systems—now and in
                       the future—depends on a skilled and qualified workforce. According to
                       DOT, transportation organizations face increasing difficulty in finding
                       qualified workers and managers to fill priority occupations. Changes in the
                       transportation industry, evolving technology, and upcoming retirements in
                       the U.S. workforce create workforce development challenges for
                       transportation organizations, training providers, academic institutions, and
                       other transit stakeholders. In DOT’s current strategic plan, DOT states
                       that it will develop and implement strategies that will foster the training
                       and development of the transportation workforce to acquire the needed
                       skills and capabilities to meet the current and future needs of the
                       industry. 1

                       You asked us to review the sufficiency of the transit workforce. This report
                       discusses:

                       •   the extent to which information exists about future transit workforce
                           needs,
                       •   the actions selected transit stakeholders are taking to address current
                           and future transit workforce needs, and
                       •   the extent to which FTA assists with addressing current and future
                           transit workforce needs.



                       1
                        U.S. Department of Transportation, Strategic Plan for FY 2018–2022 (Washington, D.C.:
                       February 2018).




                       Page 1                                                    GAO-19-290 Transit Workforce
To address these objectives, we reviewed key DOT and FTA documents
including strategic plans, reports to Congress, and reports on transit
workforce grants. We conducted interviews with a selection of transit
agencies and stakeholders. We selected a non-generalizable sample of
eight stakeholders, which included two research organizations, two
unions, two trade groups, one membership association of workforce
boards, and one transportation-consulting firm. In addition, we
interviewed officials from six transit agencies we selected for size and
geographic diversity (western, central, and eastern U.S.), among other
factors. Although the views of these officials and stakeholders are not
generalizable to those of all transit agencies and stakeholders, they
represent a range of perspectives and expertise regarding the transit
workforce’s efforts to address needs.

To determine the extent to which information exists about the future
transit workforce needs, we analyzed a report, developed by DOT and the
Departments of Labor (DOL) and Education, on the current and future
transportation workforce, and we interviewed officials from those
agencies. We also reviewed the Standards for Internal Control in the
Federal Government (Federal Internal Control Standards) for criteria on
quality information and compared FTA actions to this information. 2 To
identify the actions that selected transit stakeholders are taking to
address current and future transit workforce needs, we included
examples of actions that stakeholders generally discussed with us,
among other things. To determine the extent to which FTA is assisting
transit agencies with identifying and addressing current and future
workforce needs, we compared FTA’s actions to Federal Internal Control
Standards, 3 the Government Performance and Results Act of 1993
(GPRA), and the GPRA Modernization Act of 2010. 4

We conducted this review from January 2018 to March 2019 in
accordance with generally accepted government auditing standards.
Those standards require that we plan and perform the audit to obtain
sufficient, appropriate evidence to provide a reasonable basis for our
findings and conclusions based on our audit objectives. We believe that

2
 See GAO, Standards for Internal Control in the Federal Government, GAO-14-704G
(Washington, D.C., September 2014).
3
    GAO-14-704G.
4
 Pub. L. No. 103-62, 107 Stat. 285 (Aug. 3, 1993); Pub L. No. 111-352, 124 Stat. 3866
(Jan. 4, 2011).




Page 2                                                     GAO-19-290 Transit Workforce
             the evidence obtained provides a reasonable basis for our findings and
             conclusions based on our audit objectives.


             In 2017, transit agencies provided over 10 billion rides to people traveling
Background   to and from businesses, homes, and other locations throughout the
             United States, according to FTA. 5 Transit infrastructure for those rides
             includes railways, roads, bridges, tunnels, and stations. According to the
             2017 American Public Transportation Association’s (APTA) Fact Book, 6
             more than 6,700 organizations provided public transportation in a variety
             of modes in 2015. Transit modes include:

             •   fixed-route bus services—the most prevalent transit mode in the
                 country—vehicles operate according to regular schedules along
                 prescribed routes with designated stops;
             •   rail services—vehicles operating along railways;
             •   ferryboat services—vessels carrying passengers and/or vehicles over
                 a body of water;




             5
              Federal Transit Administration, 2017 National Transit Summary and Trends (Washington,
             D.C.: Oct. 2018). National Transit Database (NTD) data are generally 1 to 2 years behind
             because of reporting deadlines and required reviews. As of February 2019, this was the
             most recent FTA report available on national transit summaries and trends. NTD data are
             described later on in this report.
             6
              APTA is an international organization that has been providing advocacy for and
             information to the transit industry since 1882. APTA has published the Public
             Transportation Fact Book annually since 1943. The Fact Book contains national aggregate
             statistical data covering all aspects of the transit industry in the United States. The most
             recent Fact Book (2017) was based on 2015 data from FTA’s National Transit Database,
             which will be discussed later in greater detail. Data in the Fact Book calculated by APTA
             are statistical expansions of sample data designed to represent the total activity of all
             public transit agencies. Data in the Fact Book are not projections of the transit workforce
             in future years. APTA, 2017 Public Transportation Fact Book (Washington, D.C.: March
             2018).




             Page 3                                                       GAO-19-290 Transit Workforce
•   paratransit services—generally, accessible, origin-to-destination
    transportation services that operate in response to calls or requests
    from riders; 7 and
•   other demand-response services—sometimes called “dial-a-ride.”
Public transportation, or transit, 8 is statutorily defined as regular,
continuing shared-ride surface transportation services that are open to
the general public or open to a segment of the general public defined by
age, disability, or low income. This definition has multiple statutory
exclusions including intercity bus service, school bus service, and charter
bus service. 9

The transit infrastructure requires appropriately trained personnel to
operate, maintain, and oversee services and assets (e.g., vehicles).
APTA estimated that, in 2015, U.S. public transit agencies employed
more than 430,000 fulltime and part-time personnel, including contractors.
The transit workforce consists of a variety of occupations, such as bus
operators, train conductors, dispatchers, mechanics, supervisors, and
other occupations (see fig. 1 for examples.)




7
 The Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA) requires, among other things, that
public entities that operate fixed-route systems provide paratransit services to individuals
with disabilities that is comparable to the level of service provided to individuals without
disabilities who use the fixed-route system. Pub. L. No. 101-336, § 223(a), 104 Stat. 327,
340 (July 26, 1990) (codified at 42 U.S.C. § 12143(a)). DOT’s ADA implementing
regulations define “paratransit” as comparable transportation services required by the
ADA for individuals with disabilities who are unable to use fixed route transportation
systems. 49 C.F.R. § 37.3.
 8
  A DOT official told us that “transit,” “public transportation,” and “mass transit” are used
interchangeably; for the purposes of this report, we will use the term “transit.”
9
 49 U.S.C. § 5302(14). Other statutory exclusions include sightseeing service, courtesy
shuttle service for patrons of one or more specific establishments, intra-terminal or intra-
facility shuttle services, and intercity passenger rail transportation provided by Amtrak.




Page 4                                                          GAO-19-290 Transit Workforce
Figure 1: Examples of Transit Occupations




                                        FTA supports transit agencies’ workforce development by providing
                                        financial and technical assistance, among other things. FTA’s financial
                                        assistance efforts include implementing the Innovative Public
                                        Transportation Frontline Workforce Development Program, which
                                        provides competitive grants to transit agencies (transit workforce grants)
                                        to assist with the development of innovative human resources activities. 10
                                        FTA awarded transit workforce grants in fiscal years 2011, 2012, and




                                        10
                                            49 U.S.C. § 5314(b)(2).




                                        Page 5                                            GAO-19-290 Transit Workforce
2015. 11 Grant-eligible projects included employment training, outreach to
increase minority and female employment in transit, research on transit
personnel and training needs, and training and assistance for minority
business opportunities. 12 Grant recipients included transit agencies, non-
profit community groups, schools, and others. Additionally, recipients can
use up to one-half of one percent of certain grant funds, such as
Urbanized Area Formula Grants, 13 for eligible human resources and
training activities with the approval of DOT. 14

FTA also administers the National Transit Database (NTD), which is
intended to provide information to assist in transit planning efforts. All
recipients and direct beneficiaries of grants from the Urbanized Area
Formula Program and Rural Area Formula Program, 15 such as local
transit agencies, are required to report certain data to the NTD. 16 FTA
also encourages agencies not receiving grants from these programs to
report voluntarily so the NTD can be more complete. In 2016, over 2000
transit agencies submitted full or partial reports to the NTD. 17 The NTD
stores information from local transit agencies, such as financial and
operating data, to inform transit service planning for government agencies
and other organizations. Some workforce data, such as the number of



11
  FTA funded the transit workforce grant program in those years. The fiscal years 2011
and 2012 transit workforce grants were authorized by 49 U.S.C. § 5322, according to FTA
officials, while the fiscal year 2015 transit workforce grants were authorized by 49 U.S.C. §
5322(b). The Fixing America’s Surface Transportation Act (FAST Act) changed the
statutory authority for the transit workforce grant program to 49 U.S.C. § 5314(b)(2) and
repealed 49 U.S.C. § 5322. Pub. L. No. 114-94, §§ 3009, 3030(d), 129 Stat. 1312, 1469,
1497 (Dec. 4, 2015).
12
  The FAST Act added additional eligibility requirements, though, according to FTA
officials, the FAST Act changes did not apply to the most recent round of transit workforce
grants in fiscal year 2015.
13
  Urbanized Area Formula Grants are available for capital projects, planning, and other
specified activities. 49 U.S.C. § 5307.
14
  49 U.S.C. § 5314(b)(4).
15
  Formula grants for rural areas can be used by recipients in rural areas for planning,
capital projects, certain operating costs, and other specified activities. 49 U.S.C. § 5311.
16
  49 U.S.C. § 5335(b).
17
  Federal Transit Administration, Transit Profiles 2017 Top 50 Summary (Washington,
D.C.: September 2018). According to FTA officials there are more rural reporters but they
do not report workforce data.




Page 6                                                         GAO-19-290 Transit Workforce
full-time and part-time transit agency employees, is reported to the NTD. 18
NTD data provide information on the transit workforce at the time the data
are reported, but are not used to project future transit workforce needs.

FTA partners with the National Transit Institute (NTI), hosted and staffed
by Rutgers University, to provide workforce development educational
resources and training. 19 NTI delivers over 300 courses per year
nationwide to public transit employees and government transportation
agency employees at all levels. These courses focus on compliance with
federal regulations and developing skills to operate a transit agency.

At the department level, in August 2015, DOT, DOL, and the Department
of Education worked with industry stakeholders to project the employment
and skill needs of the transportation industry from 2012 to 2022. 20 Primary
sources for the report included the DOL’s Bureau of Labor Statistics
(BLS) employment projections, current population survey (demographics),
and analysis from Economic Modeling Specialists International. The effort
developed a variety of transportation workforce statistics and resulted in
the Strengthening Skills Training and Career Pathways Across the
Transportation Industry: Data Report on Future Transportation Workforce
Needs (Transportation Industry Report). Among other things, the report:

•    projected that an additional 4.6 million transportation workers will
     need to be hired to fill vacancies created by separations (occupational
     transfers, retirement, and other exits from the workplace), and net job
     growth from 2012 to 2022;




18
  Federal Transit Administration. National Transit Database 2018 Policy Manual Full
Reporting, (Washington, D.C.:2018).
19
  NTI was created by the Intermodal Surface Transportation Efficiency Act of 1991. Pub.
L. No. 102-240, § 6022, 105 Stat. 1914, 2185 (Dec. 18, 1991) (codified as amended at 49
U.S.C. § 5314(c)). The FAST Act authorized $5 million annually for NTI through fiscal year
2020. Pub. L. No. 114-94, § 3016, 129 Stat. 1312, 1479 (codified at 49 U.S.C. § 5338
(a)(2)(H)).
20
 DOT, DOL, and Department of Education, Strengthening Skills Training and Career
Pathways Across the Transportation Industry (Washington, D.C., August 2015).




Page 7                                                      GAO-19-290 Transit Workforce
                      •    provided data on current worker distribution (at that time) by age and
                           sex for six transportation sectors and by race and ethnicity for
                           selected transportation occupations; 21 and
                      •    included top job occupations by sector and projected industry and
                           occupational job openings based on separations and job growth.

                      The extent of future transit workforce needs is unclear due to the absence
Limited Information   of transit-specific workforce projections, unclear communication on the
Exists on Future      data that are available, and because the data that are available do not
                      extend past 2022. The best information available on future transportation
Transit Workforce     workforce needs, according to FTA officials is the August 2015
Needs                 Transportation Industry Report. 22 The Transportation Industry Report
                      does have projections on transportation workforce needs, but the transit
                      industry data are combined with other ground passenger transportation
                      industries such as intercity buses, charter buses, taxis, school buses, and
                      limousines. Thus, the report does not exclusively reflect the transit
                      workforce.

                      According to researchers who wrote the report, the transit and ground
                      passenger transportation data were reported as one industrial sector
                      because it would be a significant undertaking to focus solely on transit
                      workforce data without funding a study for this specific area. The
                      Transportation Industry Report was developed with data, in part, from
                      BLS, which does not exclusively report on occupational projections for
                      public transportation. BLS develops workforce projections of the U.S.
                      labor market by industry, subsector, and occupational codes, including
                      the number of employees and types of employers. 23 BLS officials we



                      21
                        The transportation sectors included (1) trucking, (2) transit and ground passenger
                      transportation, (3) air transportation, (4) highway construction and maintenance, (5) rail
                      transportation, and (6) maritime transportation.
                      22
                        Other sources of information we reviewed, such as the NTD and the APTA Fact Book,
                      do have some information on the current transit workforce, but the data are not projections
                      of future transit workforce needs. Further, while some transit agencies might collect data
                      relative to their own agency, this data would not be useful to predict transit workforce
                      needs for the industry.
                      23
                        BLS measures labor market activity and working conditions in the overall U.S. economy.
                      BLS collects, analyzes, and disseminates economic information, including nationwide
                      employment projections for 10 years in the future. The Transportation Industry Report
                      used BLS employment projections for 2012–2022.




                      Page 8                                                        GAO-19-290 Transit Workforce
interviewed said that industry and occupational data sets do not allow the
level of specificity that would be needed to identify only transit agencies. 24

The Transportation Industry Report predicted 1 million job openings in the
transit and ground passenger transportation sector from 2012 to 2022
and listed the top 10 projected job openings. However, these projected
job openings include a number of occupations within services that are
statutorily excluded from the definition of transit. 25 For example, the three
largest categories of job openings—comprising about 72 percent of the
projected openings—have the following key transit exclusions:

•     School bus and special client bus drivers made up approximately
      33 percent of the projected openings (330,699 job openings).
      However, school bus services are specifically excluded from the
      statutory definition of transit, as are sightseeing services, charter bus
      services, courtesy shuttle services for patrons of one or more specific
      establishments, and intra-terminal or intra-facility shuttle services.
•     Transit and intercity bus drivers made up almost 20 percent of the
      projected openings (199,727 job openings). However, intercity bus
      service (for example, Greyhound bus service) is specifically excluded
      from the statutory definition of transit.
•     Taxi drivers and chauffeurs made up almost 19 percent of the
      projected openings (188,895 job openings). However, these services
      may not meet the statutory definition of transit. 26
However, when communicating about the report, FTA has not always
made clear that the data in the Transportation Industry Report combine
both transit and ground passenger transportation workforce projections,
though this was not intentional, according to FTA officials. FTA has
24
  For example, the report used BLS transit and ground passenger transportation
subsector data from the transportation and warehousing sector.
25
    49 U.S.C. § 5302(14).
26
   We previously reported on FTA’s considerations when determining if transportation
services meet the statutory definition of transit. See GAO, Public Transit Partnerships:
Additional Information Needed to Clarify Data Reporting and Share Best Practices,
GAO-18-539 (Washington, D.C.: July 30, 2018). For example, according to FTA officials
we spoke to for that report, for a transportation service to be “open to the general public,”
it cannot be limited to a specific group (except those groups specified in the statutory
definition), and neither the driver nor passenger can deny another person on board. For
example, a service provided by a ridesourcing company in which a passenger or driver
can refuse additional passengers would not be considered “open to the general public,”
according to FTA officials.




Page 9                                                         GAO-19-290 Transit Workforce
presented the combined data as representing the “transit” or “public
transit” workforce in recent annual reports to Congress and a few public
presentations. For example, one of the findings in the Transportation
Industry Report is that the combined sector of transit and ground
passenger transportation has the highest percentage of older workers
who are at or nearing retirement age. However, in recent reports to
Congress, 27 FTA states that, public transit has the highest percentage of
older workers at or nearing retirement age. 28 However, this statement did
not reflect that the percentages included transit and ground passenger
transportation data. We also found similar information involving retirement
percentages and job openings in a number of FTA presentations that are
available to the public online. 29 In addition, we found two examples of
incorrect numbers in recent reports to Congress that FTA officials said
were “typos” that have now been corrected in the most recent fiscal year
2017 report. 30

FTA’s characterization of this data could confuse transit stakeholders,
including Congress, on needs, retirements, and growth in the transit
industry. When FTA identifies combined information as “transit”
projections, the audience may not understand the extent to which the
data reflect services that do not meet the statutory definition of transit. We
found evidence that this may have already occurred to some extent.
During our review, we found examples of stakeholders in the industry
repeating the same statistics that FTA has presented as “transit” in
publications and in our interviews with them, raising questions about
whether the industry may have misconceptions about the future transit
workforce. FTA officials told us that the combination of transit and ground
27
   Federal Transit Administration, FTA Annual Report on FY 2016 Technical Assistance
and Workforce Development Projects, FTA Report No. 0109 (Washington, D.C.: June
2017) and FTA Annual Report on Technical Assistance and Workforce Development for
FY 2017, FTA Report No. 0121 (Washington, D.C.: April 2018). FTA is required to report
to Congress on the Frontline Workforce Development Program each fiscal year. 49 U.S.C.
§ 5314(b)(2)(E).
28
  We could not verify whether FTA’s statement was accurate because public transit data
are combined with ground passenger data in the Transportation Industry Report.
29
  See, for example, Federal Transit Administration, Workforce Development in an Era of
Emerging Technology (Washington, D.C.: Oct. 2017) and Federal Transit Administration
Public Transportation Innovative Workforce Initiatives (Washington, D.C.: Oct. 2017).
30
  Two typos in the annual report to Congress included: (1) the percentage of workers from
ages 45–54, which was 28 percent not 21 percent as listed in the fiscal years 2016 and
2017 reports, and (2) stating that “transit” needed 4.6 million workers between 2012 and
2022, but that number was for the entire transportation industry.




Page 10                                                    GAO-19-290 Transit Workforce
passenger transportation is appropriate because of similarities in the
industries and the common practice of transit agencies hiring contractors
from ground passenger transportation to supplement workforce
personnel. However, the context of this information has not always been
clear in reports to external parties.

Further, the Transportation Industry Report’s projections on the future
transportation workforce are only estimated through 2022. 31 DOT officials
said that they do not have plans to update the report beyond 2022 or to
develop a report that focuses solely on transit workforce projections. FTA
officials told us that they plan to hire a data scientist to assist them with
transit workforce issues. FTA officials also told us in November 2018, that
the report was intended to provide trend information and that they do not
plan to use the transit numbers from the Transportation Industry Report in
future reports and presentations, and considering that the report will soon
reach the end of its projections in 2022, we are not making a
recommendation about how to communicate the context of the
information in the Transportation Industry Report.

Opinions on the need for additional transit workforce data and projections
varied among transit stakeholders we interviewed. Several stakeholders
cited the difficulties of collecting transit-specific projections or other types
of data, while others pointed to the need for more data such as data
identifying shortages in specific occupations and retirement age of transit
employees. However, officials from the Community Transportation
Association of America, which represents small and rural transit agencies,
said that requiring additional data from transit agencies could be a time-
consuming burden for local transit officials. The association officials
suggested that transit stakeholders should work together to use existing
workforce data from FTA or BLS to develop workforce projection data.
Transportation Research Board officials also said that additional transit
workforce data would be costly and difficult for transit agencies to provide.
However, the Director of Eno’s Center for Transportation Leadership, a
research organization, stated that it is extremely difficult to develop

31
  BLS officials also noted that the Transportation Industry Report is not “up to date”
because the report uses 2012–2022 data and 2016–2026 data are now available. Further,
the report uses Current Population Survey data and Occupational Employment Statistics
data from 2014, and 2017 data are now available for both programs. In addition, the
officials noted that the report used experimental data from a new occupational separations
methodology that BLS has now adopted as its official method, but there were some
improvements in the methodology from 2012–2022 that are reflected in the most recent
data.




Page 11                                                     GAO-19-290 Transit Workforce
                       national policies, programs, and grants to address systemic workforce
                       problems because of the gaps in transit workforce data.

                       Federal Internal Control Standards highlight the importance of using
                       quality information to make informed decisions and identifying the
                       information requirements needed to do so while considering the
                       expectations of internal and external users. 32 While the views of
                       stakeholders we interviewed varied on the extent to which additional
                       transit workforce data and projections are needed, new transit workforce
                       projections could inform decision-making on transit workforce planning to
                       address potential future shortages or other needs. We have previously
                       reported that agencies should weigh data collection decisions carefully,
                       noting that there is a cost to data collection, and that only needed data
                       should be collected. 33 Working with stakeholders to understand what, if
                       any, additional transit-specific workforce data transit stakeholders need
                       and the related collection costs could enable FTA to weigh the complete
                       costs and benefits of developing future data for the transit industry and to
                       make informed decisions on allocating the appropriate resources toward
                       those efforts.



Selected Transit
Stakeholders Are
Taking Steps to
Address Transit
Workforce Needs and
Cited Ongoing
Recruiting and
Retention Challenges


                       32
                            GAO-14-704G.
                       33
                        GAO. Federal Real Property: National Strategy and Better Data Needed to Improve
                       Management of Excess and Underutilized Property, GAO-12-645 (Washington, D.C.: June
                       20, 2012), and GAO, Executive Guide: Effectively Implementing the Government
                       Performance and Results Act, GAO/GGD-96-118 (Washington, D.C.: June 1996).




                       Page 12                                                GAO-19-290 Transit Workforce
Selected Stakeholders’   Transit stakeholders we interviewed highlighted actions they are taking to
Actions                  address transit workforce needs but also noted continuing difficulties with
                         recruiting and retaining staff. Examples of actions they have taken to
                         address workforce needs, either with a transit workforce grant or with
                         other funding include:

                         •    Career enhancement: Los Angeles County Metropolitan
                              Transportation Authority officials told us that they have developed a
                              program that offers growth opportunities by providing “upskilling”
                              resources at all levels of the agency including employee development,
                              management/leadership, and transportation senior leadership, among
                              other things.
                         •    Courseware development: The Transportation Learning Center
                              organized three industry consortiums to develop national standards-
                              based courseware—Rail Car, Signals, and Elevator/Escalator
                              Technicians, according to the Transportation Learning Center. 34 For
                              example, under the Signals Training Consortium, 25 new courses
                              have been developed covering the inspection, maintenance, and
                              troubleshooting of transit and commuter rail signaling equipment. The
                              curriculum is planned to include both classroom and on-the-job
                              training.
                         •    Internships: The Conference of Minority Transportation Officials
                              developed a program to prepare college, university, and vocational
                              school students to enter transit and transportation-related fields,
                              according to conference officials. In 2018, this program placed 29
                              interns nationwide in architectural and engineering firms as well as
                              state and local government agencies.
                         •    Managerial training: The Eno Center for Transportation provided
                              classes for mid- and senior-level transit executives and has started
                              one for first-line supervisors, according to an Eno official. This training
                              includes lectures, classes, job shadowing, informal mentoring, field
                              trips, and meetings with counterparts.
                         •    Research: The Community Transportation Association of America
                              reported on a survey it conducted of its members in June 2018 on the
                              salary and benefits for professional transit positions in the industry.
                              The survey’s 236 respondents provided information on hourly and/or

                         34
                           The Transportation Learning Center is a national organization that focuses on the
                         frontline workforce in public transportation and transportation in general by developing and
                         supporting technical training partnerships for the current and future workforce. The Center
                         receives funding from FTA and DOL.




                         Page 13                                                      GAO-19-290 Transit Workforce
                               salary information, operating budget, available benefits, services
                               provided, and number of employees, among other things. According
                               to the Association, the members asked for this survey because it
                               helps them make staffing and employment decisions within their
                               agencies.
                          •    Technology education: Jacksonville Transportation Authority officials
                               told us that they have established a “Workforce of the Future” working
                               group whose charge is to prepare the workforce to incorporate
                               emerging technologies as it transitions its aged elevated, automated
                               people-mover system—the “Skyway”—to autonomous vehicle
                               technology. The working group supports a public automated-vehicle
                               test track as well as employee town halls to develop the tools to
                               discuss these issues in their communities.

Other Transit Workforce   FTA’s transit workforce grants also supported stakeholder actions to
Grant-Supported Actions   address transit workforce issues including: 35

                          •    In fiscal year 2011, FTA awarded 12 workforce grants totaling $3
                               million. For example, the Chicago Transit Authority received a grant to
                               develop and validate a transit-manager competency model to help
                               supervisors recognize and support skills and leadership potential in
                               their staff. In addition, the Florida Department of Transportation
                               received a grant for its Certified Transit Technician Program, which
                               resulted in 13 hires, each receiving the opportunity for additional
                               certification and a college degree.
                          •    In fiscal year 2012, FTA awarded 17 grants totaling $7.05 million. 36
                               For example, the Southwest Ohio Regional Transit Authority
                               (Cincinnati) received a grant to develop a program that provided
                               technical training in hybrid engine technology to improve its
                               maintenance program and hybrid bus fleet. The Corporation to
                               Develop Communities of Tampa, Inc. received a grant to recruit, train,
                               and employ up to 30 people in the transit industry, including transit
                               operations and maintenance workers.



                          35
                            This information was obtained primarily from FTA’s annual reports (fiscal years 2016
                          and 2017). The numbers and dollar amounts are taken from the fiscal year 2016 report,
                          because that report provided the detailed information by year.
                          36
                            In February 2019, FTA officials told us one of the 17 projects was found not worthy, so
                          there were actually only 16 grants awarded in fiscal year 2012.




                          Page 14                                                      GAO-19-290 Transit Workforce
                                         •    In fiscal year 2015, FTA awarded 16 grants for $8.1 million. 37 For
                                              example, the Bay Area Rapid Transit District was awarded a grant to
                                              create a pathway to employment in the transit industry for traditionally
                                              under-represented individuals. The Workforce Development Council
                                              of Snohomish County, Washington, received a grant to bring together
                                              local partners to create a pipeline of skilled workers ready to enter the
                                              transit and construction industries. The partners have targeted
                                              women, minorities, and native tribes to access apprenticeships, social
                                              services, and job placement programs.

Recruitment and Retention                Notwithstanding these efforts, the transit stakeholders we spoke with
Challenges                               identified ongoing recruiting and retention challenges as shown in table
                                         1. 38

Table 1: Examples of Challenges That Selected Transit Stakeholders Cited in Recruiting and Retaining Transit Workers (2018)

Challenge                       Examples cited by stakeholders
Job requirements                In many locations, the pool of applicants eligible to meet the job requirements for transit jobs or
                                who already have transit related skills is small. For example, many agencies require that operators
                                have a commercial driver’s license (CDL) with a passenger endorsement. (Drivers with CDLs who
                                plan to operate special types of commercial motor vehicles must pass additional knowledge and/or
                                skills tests to obtain any endorsements placed on their CDL, such as an endorsement for operating
                                vehicles that carry passengers.) One stakeholder specifically noted that the difficulty of passing the
                                CDL test, obtaining passenger endorsements on their CDL, drug-testing requirements, the high
                                cost of required physicals, and skills gaps were the primary reasons for their challenges in finding
                                bus operators. Another stakeholder said that attendance issues affect retention because transit is a
                                very structured environment and requires punctuality to keep transit running on time.
Pay and benefits                Transit agencies cannot always provide competitive wages and benefits, particularly in rural areas
                                or areas with low unemployment; this situation can make hiring and retaining employees difficult.
                                For example, one stakeholder noted problems with competing with wages paid by local fast food
                                establishments.




                                         37
                                           In February 2019, FTA officials told us 19 projects were selected but 2 projects were
                                         found ineligible so 17 grants were awarded in fiscal year 2015.
                                         38
                                           For the purposes of this report, we asked stakeholders open-ended questions about the
                                         challenges to get a general idea of the kinds of challenges they face. We list themes that
                                         we heard more than once; however, just because a stakeholder did not mention a specific
                                         challenge, does not mean that that a stakeholder has not experienced that challenge.




                                         Page 15                                                        GAO-19-290 Transit Workforce
 Challenge                                        Examples cited by stakeholders
 Transit automation and                           Obtaining in-house expertise for technology-related challenges is difficult. For example, knowledge
 technology                                       of more sophisticated vehicles, electronics, and operations software is required, and workers with
                                                  those skills are difficult to find. One stakeholder stated that buses and trains are, in effect, really big
                                                  computers so a different skill set is needed for operators. Several stakeholders said that preparing
                                                  for automation is difficult because there are not many workers available who know how to operate
                                                  or maintain automated transit vehicles or to train future workers, and one stakeholder indicated that
                                                  the rapid advancement of technology makes it difficult to remain current on training and best
                                                  practices.
 Work schedule                                    Many transit positions are assigned according to seniority, meaning that newer workers are often
                                                  required to work unappealing shifts—such as split shifts and late night shifts—or routes. One
                                                  stakeholder specifically noted that trucking companies and car dealerships are attractive to transit
                                                  operators and mechanics because they offer a more traditional work schedule. Also, according to
                                                  another stakeholder, most transit agencies are so short staffed that they require their employees to
                                                  work overtime.
 Workplace health and safety                      Transit workers face health and safety concerns that can make transit jobs unappealing. One
                                                  stakeholder specifically noted risks including assault from passengers, poor ventilation (on buses)
                                                  that has led to asthma problems among drivers, and inadequate scheduling of breaks by
                                                  automated-scheduling systems. Another stakeholder noted that abusive behavior by passengers
                                                  toward other passengers or transit agency drivers is also a deterrent to hiring.
Source: GAO analysis of stakeholder information. | GAO-19-290




FTA Helps Address
Transit Workforce
Needs, but Improved
Strategic Planning
Could Better Focus
Assistance
FTA Provides Transit                                            FTA has taken a number of actions to assist transit agencies with future
Workforce Assistance                                            workforce needs including:

                                                                •     FTA provides technical assistance, standards development, training,
                                                                      and workforce development projects for the transit workforce. 39 In
                                                                      fiscal year 2017, the active projects totaled over $29 million. 40
                                                                      •    Almost 13.3 million (approximately 46 percent) of this funding
                                                                           went to technical assistance projects. For example, FTA spent

                                                                39
                                                                    In fiscal year 2017, these projects were authorized under 49 U.S.C. § 5314.
                                                                40
                                                                    FTA Annual Report (fiscal year 2017).




                                                                Page 16                                                       GAO-19-290 Transit Workforce
          almost $4 million to assist the National Aging and Disability
          Transportation Center with efforts that include developing online
          courses and training materials to assist certain FTA grant
          recipients with providing transportation services to older adults
          and people with disabilities. 41 The funds were also used to present
          a podcast, as part of an online course on the Americans with
          Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA). The podcast addressed common
          ADA questions related to customer service, wheelchairs on
          vehicles, and service animals.
    •     Over $8.3 million (approximately 28 percent) funded 17 active
          transit workforce development projects from the fiscal year 2015
          transit workforce grants discussed previously for developing new
          training curriculums, or seeking to recruit and train specific groups,
          especially those who are underrepresented in the transit
          workforce.
    •     $5 million (approximately 17 percent) funded NTI development
          and delivery of training programs for federal, state, and local
          transportation employees. For example, NTI delivered 270 training
          courses throughout the U.S. to 7,298 participants in fiscal year
          2017. NTI also supported a workshop to help address industry
          issues as they arise, such as workforce shortages and issues in
          recruitment and retention.
    •     $2.5 million (approximately 9 percent) funded a Transit Standards
          Development Program at the Center for Urban Transportation
          Research (University of South Florida) to provide research and
          analysis on needs and gaps, and recommendations for new
          standards, or to modify existing standards. For example, one of
          the reports discussed fatigue management, among other things.
          According to FTA, the ultimate effects of this program are
          increased safety and reduced injuries and fatalities.
•   FTA is collaborating with NTI to conduct an industry workforce needs
    assessment aimed at identifying training, skills, and educational gaps
    that exist in the industry as well as within current NTI programs. They
    are conducting this assessment because of transit’s changing
    workforce, technologies, and operating environment. This assessment
    is intended to result in a report that provides a road map for the transit
    workforce’s development and training and may identify some of the

41
  The National Aging and Disability Training Center is a program partially funded by FTA
that seeks to increase access to transportation for older adults, people with disabilities,
and caregivers.




Page 17                                                       GAO-19-290 Transit Workforce
     gaps in transit workforce needs. As of November 2018, NTI has held
     focus groups at key transit conferences, which have provided a
     preliminary picture of the transit industry’s critical need, according to
     FTA. NTI has also completed a draft of a survey of transit agency
     needs and FTA is reviewing it, according to an NTI official. The next
     steps include conducting the survey, mapping NTI’s curriculum and
     courses to desired key skills, and developing a national transit
     competency framework. The researchers are planning to use a
     statistically significant sample that represents the needs of the
     industry, both for urban and rural agencies, with estimated completion
     of the survey and analysis in early 2019.
•    FTA is evaluating the effectiveness of the transit workforce grant
     program. FTA funded an evaluation of the 12 fiscal year 2011 transit
     workforce grants. The report discussed whether the projects met
     goals, the effect of the programs, and whether the programs were
     worth further investment. The report noted a number of outcomes
     including introducing 2,608 youth to transit, and training 1,527 people.
     FTA also plans to evaluate transit workforce grants awarded in fiscal
     years 2012 and 2015 and to create outreach materials from the grant
     projects for transit stakeholders. The evaluation is also intended to
     provide important best practices and lessons learned for other transit
     operators.
•    FTA is researching the potential effects of automation on the transit
     workforce. In January 2018, FTA released the Strategic Transit
     Automation Research Plan, which established a research and
     demonstration framework. 42 One of the research projects in the plan
     is an assessment of the effect of automation on the transit workforce.
     Specifically, the assessment is planned to provide a qualitative
     analysis of labor-related considerations with transit bus automation
     including potential workforce changes, perspectives of organized
     labor, statutory and regulatory provisions, and other societal factors. A
     follow-on project is planned to evaluate changes in staffing levels, job
     responsibilities, labor hours, and training needs to provide a
     quantitative approach to estimating automation’s effects on transit
     employment levels, workforce needs, and wages.




42
  Federal Transit Administration. Strategic Transit Automation Research Plan
(Washington, D.C.: January 2018).




Page 18                                                    GAO-19-290 Transit Workforce
FTA’s Transit Workforce
Development Efforts Are
Not Guided by a Strategy,
Performance Goals, and
Measures
Strategy                    Although FTA has assisted transit stakeholders with workforce needs, it
                            lacks key strategic planning practices that could ensure its efforts are as
                            effective as possible. FTA reported in its fiscal years 2016 and 2017
                            annual reports to Congress that it planned to develop a transit workforce
                            strategic plan. 43 Federal Internal Control Standards indicate that plans,
                            such as strategic plans, should set up the effective and efficient
                            operations necessary to fulfill desired objectives. 44 Effective operations
                            produce the intended results from operational processes, while efficient
                            operations do so in a manner that minimizes the waste of resources.
                            However, FTA does not have a comprehensive strategy showing the
                            operations and processes to be developed to guide FTA’s efforts to assist
                            transit agencies with addressing future transit workforce needs.

                            FTA has had a number of starts and stops in producing a transit
                            workforce strategy since it first reported this intention to Congress in
                            2016, but no clear action has been taken to develop a strategy so far. In
                            July 2018, FTA officials told us that the reason they had not yet drafted a
                            comprehensive strategy is because they considered developing their
                            strategy as part of an overall DOT strategy, rather than a transit workforce
                            strategy as a stand-alone product. However, DOT does not currently plan
                            to develop a comprehensive department-wide transportation workforce
                            strategy. Nevertheless, DOT has consistently identified addressing the
                            transportation workforce as a priority over time in key DOT documents,
                            including its last three strategic plans and the last two performance plans.
                            DOT officials told us that the strategic plan is not intended to provide such
                            detail; rather, it is designed to be a top-level strategic plan that provides a
                            broad framework for DOT. In November 2018, FTA officials told us that
                            they intend to create a “workforce consortium” and a new technical
                            assistance project that would result in a strategy. However, FTA officials
                            did not provide a time frame for when these actions would be taken.


                            43
                             FTA Annual Report (Fiscal years 2016 and 2017).
                            44
                             GAO-14-704G.




                            Page 19                                              GAO-19-290 Transit Workforce
                        Considering the importance of the transit workforce to efficient operation
                        of the transit infrastructure, a transit workforce strategy would be
                        consistent with internal controls, such as setting up effective operations,
                        whether this strategy is developed as part of a department-wide strategy,
                        as a stand-alone project, or through a workforce consortium. Without a
                        comprehensive strategy to guide FTA’s ongoing activities to assist with
                        transit workforce needs, FTA lacks a roadmap to ensure it is effectively
                        leveraging its resources to help address future transit workforce needs. In
                        addition, it may be difficult for Congress to understand the merits of
                        investing in future transit workforce programs because it may not be clear
                        absent a vision of how individual programs fit within the overall transit
                        workforce strategy.

Performance Goals and   In addition to not having a comprehensive strategy, FTA lacks key tools to
Measures                demonstrate the extent to which individual workforce development efforts
                        are addressing future transit workforce needs. In particular, FTA has not
                        established clearly defined performance goals and measures for its transit
                        workforce assistance efforts. Establishing clear goals and measuring
                        progress toward them are consistent with the management principles set
                        forth in GPRA, as enhanced by the GPRA Modernization Act of 2010, and
                        our previous work. 45

                        Setting long-term strategic goals is essential for results-oriented
                        management, because such goals explain with greater specificity the
                        results an agency is intending to achieve, as we have previously
                        reported. 46 FTA discussed the pending development of transit workforce
                        goals at an October 2016 summit with transit stakeholders, but these
                        goals were not finalized. Further, there are no performance goals for
                        transit workforce development efforts in DOT’s current annual
                        performance plan, and none is referenced in the current strategic plan.

                        FTA has developed some performance measures for evaluating the
                        outcomes of transit workforce grants—but not for its transit workforce

                        45
                         For example, see GAO, Performance Measurement and Evaluation: Definitions and
                        Relationships, GAO-11-646SP (Washington, D.C.: May 2011); Managing for Results:
                        Enhancing Agency Use of Performance Information for Management Decision Making,
                        GAO-05-927 (Washington, D.C.: Sept. 9, 2005); and GAO/GGD-96-118.
                        46
                          See GAO, Tax Gap: IRS Needs Specific Goals and Strategies for Improving
                        Compliance, GAO-18-39, (Washington, D.C.: Oct. 31, 2017) and Managing for Results:
                        Critical Issues for Improving Federal Agencies’ Strategic Plans, GAO/GGD-97-180
                        (Washington, D.C.: Sept. 16, 1997).




                        Page 20                                                  GAO-19-290 Transit Workforce
development efforts at large. In addition, these measures are not tied to
performance goals that FTA expects the grants to achieve. We have
previously reported that results-oriented organizations first set
performance goals to clearly define desired outcomes and then they
develop performance measures that are clearly linked to the program
goals and demonstrate the degree to which the desired results are
achieved. 47 For example, two of the performance measures for transit
workforce grants are “total projected cost per direct participant,” and
“number of people expected to be trained overall,” but FTA has not set a
goal for what the projected cost per participant should be or the number
of people who should be trained by grant awards. By establishing
performance measures before establishing specific performance goals
that FTA seeks to achieve, FTA may not ensure that the data gained from
these performance measures are an effective use of resources.

DOT officials said that performance goals and measures for FTA’s transit
workforce grant program were not finalized because no funding has been
identified for a subsequent round of these grants. However, FTA’s efforts
to assist with transit workforce issues are larger than one grant program.
Performance goals and measures are consistent with effective
management practices with or without funding for a specific grant
program.

Without documented, clearly defined goals and performance measures
linked to those goals, FTA is limited in its ability to make informed
decisions about transit workforce development efforts. As a result, FTA
risks expending resources on efforts that it may not be able to
demonstrate are meeting intended goals. Focusing on the intended
results of FTA’s transit workforce efforts can promote strategic and
disciplined management decisions that are more likely to be effective
because managers are better able to target areas most in need of
improvement and to select appropriate interventions. Further, agency
accountability can be enhanced when both agency management and
external stakeholders—such as Congress—can assess an agency’s
progress toward meeting its goals. Without performance goals and
related performance measures, it will be more difficult for FTA to
determine the success of its strategies, adjust its approach when
necessary, and remain focused on results.

47
  See GAO, Telecommunications: FCC’s Performance Management Weaknesses Could
Jeopardize Proposed Reforms of the Rural Health Care Program, GAO-11-27
(Washington, D.C.: Nov. 17, 2010), and GAO/GGD-96-118.




Page 21                                            GAO-19-290 Transit Workforce
                      Much is unknown about the workforce needed in the future to operate the
Conclusions           nation’s transit systems and to transport people to and from work, school,
                      and other destinations. Disaggregating transit workforce data from other
                      transportation data has proved to be challenging, and the best projections
                      of the future transportation workforce needs will expire in 2022.
                      Additionally, how vehicle automation and other technology advances will
                      affect the future transit workforce is unclear, and FTA’s presentations on
                      the transit workforce projections that do exist may have contributed to the
                      lack of clarity on the future needs of the industry. Whether additional,
                      refined data on transit workforce needs—for example, an updated version
                      of the Transportation Industry Report—would provide greater benefits to
                      the industry than the cost of collecting these data is something FTA can
                      determine when it better understands the information the industry needs
                      to make effective workforce decisions. At that point, FTA can decide what
                      additional data need to be collected strategically, if any, and at what cost,
                      as part of strategic planning efforts.

                      FTA has identified the need to create a transit workforce strategy, and
                      has expressed its intention to create one in a number of different ways,
                      but has taken no clear action yet to ensure that FTA’s intention will be
                      realized. By taking the initiative to develop a strategy to help address
                      future transit workforce needs, FTA will be in a position to better manage
                      its ongoing transit workforce activities. FTA is undertaking a number of
                      efforts that could provide the foundation for sound strategic planning,
                      including sponsoring an assessment of transit workforce needs, hiring a
                      data scientist, starting a workforce consortium, and initiating research on
                      future automation that could provide more clarity regarding a key aspect
                      of future transit that is, as of now, an unknown factor. Further, FTA has
                      already drafted some performance measures for its transit workforce
                      grants that it may be able to use as a foundation for creating goals and
                      measures for transit workforce development at large. However, more
                      specific strategic planning efforts that include developing a strategy and
                      performance goals and measures can better enable FTA to effectively
                      help transit agencies identify, prepare, and provide a sufficient workforce
                      for the future.


                      We are making three recommendations to the FTA Administrator:
Recommendations for
Executive Action      •   The FTA Administrator should determine, in collaboration with transit
                          stakeholders, whether additional transit workforce data are needed to
                          identify potential future occupational shortages in the transit industry




                      Page 22                                            GAO-19-290 Transit Workforce
                      and whether the benefits of this collection would outweigh the cost of
                      gathering it. (Recommendation 1)
                  •   The FTA Administrator should develop and document a strategy that
                      outlines how FTA will help address future transit workforce needs.
                      (Recommendation 2)
                  •   The FTA Administrator should develop and document clearly defined
                      performance goals and measures for its transit workforce
                      development efforts. (Recommendation 3)

                  We sent a copy of this draft report to DOT for review and comment. DOT
Agency Comments   responded with a letter in which it concurred with our recommendations
                  and discussed the successes of its Innovative Workforce Development
                  Program. The letter is reprinted in appendix II. DOT also provided
                  technical comments, which we incorporated in the report as appropriate.


                  We are sending copies of this report to appropriate congressional
                  committees and to the Secretary of Transportation. In addition, the report
                  is available at no charge on the GAO website at http://www.gao.gov. If
                  you or your staffs have any questions about this report, please contact
                  me at (202) 512-2834 or goldsteinm@gao.gov. Contact points for our
                  Offices of Congressional Relations and Public Affairs may be found on
                  the last page of this report. GAO staff who contributed to this report are
                  listed in appendix II.




                  Mark Goldstein
                  Director, Physical Infrastructure Issues




                  Page 23                                           GAO-19-290 Transit Workforce
Appendix I: Objectives, Scope, and
              Appendix I: Objectives, Scope, and
              Methodology



Methodology

              This report addresses: (1) the extent to which information exists about
              future transit workforce needs, (2) the actions selected transit
              stakeholders are taking to address current and future transit workforce
              needs, and (3) the extent to which the Federal Transit Administration
              (FTA) assists with identifying and addressing current and future transit
              workforce needs.

              For all objectives, we analyzed key Department of Transportation (DOT)
              and FTA documents such as DOT strategic plans, annual reports to
              Congress in fiscal years 2017 and 2016, and public presentations, which
              discussed workforce needs, grant programs, and data involving the transit
              industry. We also interviewed government officials from DOT, including
              from FTA, the Office of the Secretary, and the Federal Highway
              Administration; from the Department of Labor (DOL) and its Bureau of
              Labor Statistics (BLS); and from the Department of Education. Further,
              we interviewed three transit stakeholders—the Eno Center for
              Transportation, the National Transit Institute (NTI), and the American
              Public Transportation Association (APTA) to understand available data
              sources, relevant studies, and grant programs focused on the transit
              workforce. Based on our research and recommendations from those
              interviews with those three stakeholders and FTA, we selected a non-
              generalizable sample of an additional eight transit stakeholders for
              interviews. These selected stakeholders included:

              •   two research organizations (Transportation Learning Center and the
                  Transportation Research Board, which includes the Transit
                  Cooperative Research Program and the Transit Research Analysis
                  Committee);
              •   two unions (Amalgamated Transit Union and Transport Workers
                  Union of America);
              •   two trade groups (Community Transportation Association of America
                  and Conference of Minority Transportation Officials); and
              •   one membership association of workforce boards (National
                  Association of Workforce Boards); 1



              1
               The National Association of Workforce Boards represents 550 workforce development
              boards and their business members who coordinate and leverage workforce strategies to
              ensure that state and local workforce development and job-training programs meet the
              needs of employers.




              Page 24                                                  GAO-19-290 Transit Workforce
Appendix I: Objectives, Scope, and
Methodology




•   one transportation subject-matter expert (Mort Downey Consulting,
    LLC). 2
In addition, we selected and interviewed officials from six transit agencies
to understand their perspectives regarding workforce issues such as
recruiting and retention challenges, and efforts to address those
challenges.

•   We selected and interviewed three urban transit agencies: Los
    Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (CA); Regional
    Transportation District—Denver (CO); and the Jacksonville
    Transportation Authority (FL). We selected these agencies because
    (1) each was recommended by more than one transit stakeholder we
    interviewed for taking specific actions to address workforce issues; (2)
    as a group, they represented geographic diversity (western, central,
    and eastern United States); and (3) each was awarded at least one
    FTA transit workforce grant.
•   In order to find smaller, more rural agencies for balance we selected
    three transit agencies: Advance Transit (Wilder, Vermont); Cache
    Valley Transit District (Logan, Utah); and the Ki Bois Area Transit
    System (Stigler, Oklahoma) based primarily on recommendations
    from the Community Transportation Association of America, which
    represents thousands of the rural and tribal transit agencies, and then
    considered geographic diversity (western, central, and eastern United
    States) and a mix of services offered.
Although the views of these selected officials and stakeholders are not
generalizable to those of all transit agencies and stakeholders, they
represent a range of perspectives and expertise regarding the transit
workforce.

To determine the extent to which information exists about the future
transit workforce, we evaluated the Transportation Industry Report, which
projected the employment and skill needs of the transportation industry
from 2012 to 2022. 3 We evaluated the scope, methodology, and
limitations of the Transportation Industry Report’s workforce projections,

2
 Mortimer (Mort) Downey is a former Deputy Secretary of DOT, a former board member of
the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority, and a former executive director and
chief financial officer of New York’s Metropolitan Transportation Authority.
3
 DOT, DOL, and Department of Education, Strengthening Skills Training and Career
Pathways Across the Transportation Industry (Washington, D.C., August 2015). In the
body of our report, we referred to this product as the Transportation Industry Report.




Page 25                                                     GAO-19-290 Transit Workforce
Appendix I: Objectives, Scope, and
Methodology




as that report provided the best available information according to FTA
officials. We analyzed the report’s projected job openings data in the
transit and ground passenger transportation sector to understand the
extent to which the data represented transit-specific data. In addition, we
reviewed FTA’s annual reports to Congress for fiscal years 2016 and
2017, and public presentations to document communication to the public
involving transit workforce data. We also reviewed FTA’s National Transit
Database (NTD) 2017 and 2016 calendar year data on transit agency
employees. Further, we interviewed BLS officials and reviewed the most
recent BLS employment projections from 2016–2026 to understand the
extent to which the data could be separated to represent only transit-
specific data. We reviewed the Standards for Internal Control in the
Federal Government on communicating and preparing quality information
and compared FTA actions to this information. 4

To determine what actions selected transit stakeholders are taking to
address current and future transit needs, we reviewed efforts to address
transit workforce needs taken by stakeholders whom we interviewed. We
also reviewed challenges involving recruiting and retaining transit workers
discussed during our interviews with those stakeholders. We judgmentally
included examples in our report to demonstrate the breadth of actions
that are being taken. We analyzed various FTA reports on transit
workforce grants awarded in fiscal years 2011, 2012, and 2015 and
included examples to demonstrate the variety of projects that the transit
workforce grants covered. We also included examples in our report of
challenges that transit stakeholders we spoke with generally discussed,
grouped under common themes. Themes that we included in the report
were cited multiple times by stakeholders we interviewed.

To determine the extent to which FTA is assisting transit agencies with
identifying and addressing current and future workforce needs, we
interviewed officials from FTA and DOT’s Office of the Secretary to
document their efforts to identify and address current and future transit
workforce needs. We compared FTA’s actions to address transit
workforce needs to Federal Internal Control Standards, the Government
Performance and Results Act of 1993 (GPRA), the GPRA Modernization
Act of 2010, 5 and our previous work. 6


4
 See GAO, Standards for Internal Control in the Federal Government, GAO-14-704G
(Washington, D.C., September 2014).
5
    Pub. L. No. 103-62, 107 Stat. 285; Pub L. No. 111-352, 124 Stat. 3866.




Page 26                                                       GAO-19-290 Transit Workforce
Appendix I: Objectives, Scope, and
Methodology




We conducted this performance audit from January 2018 to March 2019
in accordance with generally accepted government auditing standards.
Those standards require that we plan and perform the audit to obtain
sufficient, appropriate evidence to provide a reasonable basis for our
findings and conclusions based on our audit objectives. We believe that
the evidence obtained provides a reasonable basis for our findings and
conclusions based on our audit objectives.




6
 For example, see GAO, Performance Measurement and Evaluation: Definitions and
Relationships, GAO-11-646SP (Washington, D.C.: May 2, 2011); Managing for Results:
Enhancing Agency Use of Performance Information for Management Decision Making,
GAO-05-927 (Washington, D.C.: Sept. 9, 2005); and Executive Guide: Effectively
Implementing the Government Performance and Results Act, GAO/GGD-96-118
(Washington, D.C.: June 1, 1996).




Page 27                                                 GAO-19-290 Transit Workforce
Appendix II: Comments from the Department
             Appendix II: Comments from the Department
             of Transportation



of Transportation




             Page 28                                     GAO-19-290 Transit Workforce
Appendix II: Comments from the Department
of Transportation




Page 29                                     GAO-19-290 Transit Workforce
Appendix III: GAO Contact and Staff
                  Appendix III: GAO Contact and Staff
                  Acknowledgments



Acknowledgments

                  Mark Goldstein, (202) 512-2834 or goldsteinm@gao.gov
GAO Contact
                  In addition to the contact named above, Heather MacLeod (Assistant
Staff             Director); Amy Higgins (Analyst-in-Charge); Nelsie Alcoser; Melissa
Acknowledgments   Bodeau; Lacey Coppage; Terence Lam; Josh Ormond; Pamela Vines;
                  and Elizabeth Wood made key contributions to this report.




(102567)
                  Page 30                                        GAO-19-290 Transit Workforce
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