Transit Workforce Development Challenges and Mitigation Practices

 The objective of this research is to summarize previously conducted research, related to workforce development challenges in the transit industry. This research will detail major findings and subsequent recommendations, based on the annotated bibliography, of the current atmosphere and the most successful ways to mitigate those challenges to attract and retain talent in the transit industry in the future. According to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the U.S. has over 10 million job openings and only 5.7 million unemployed workers.   Back in 2017, long before the pandemic, the Washington Post was touting that there were not enough workers to fill the vacancies, as the U.S. Census Bureau announced a 17-year low in unemployment while the Bureau of Labor Statistics hit record streaks for numbers of job openings.  The COVID-19 pandemic exacerbated the employment challenges that the U.S. already faced. To top it all, the COVID-19 pandemic also led to increased retirement rates among those close to retirement age.  
Beyond U.S. workforce challenges, there are specific challenges that are somewhat unique to the transit industry. The transit industry often requires stringent work hours, with non-competitive pay, and many employees are forced to reside excessive distances from where they work, as more remote areas tend to cost less to rent. The transit industry could certainly improve perceptions of job growth and career advancement opportunities, while transit providers can improve the actions they take to protect their employees from assaults. Just when we think we have it all figured out, states decide to legalize recreational drug use while the federal government continues to prohibit use, making it even more difficult to attract qualified candidates to the transit industry. 
There are measures that transit agencies can take to combat some of the workforce challenges that they are facing, and this research will highlight some of the social media recruiting, online hiring platform improvement, partnerships with career centers, universities, and recruitment centers, increases in pay, benefits, and bonuses, providing flexible schedule options and some other atypical ideas that have been used to attract and retain workers in the transit workforce. 
The objective of this research is to conduct an annotated bibliography and literature review to identify the current challenges associated with the workforce shortages in the transit industry, and the research that has provided state of the practice, highlighting reasons why this lack of workforce occurs. Another objective is to develop recommendations from the initial findings associated with the previous literature search objective to increase attraction and retention of workers in the transit industry. 
To accomplish the objectives, the following tasks will be performed:

  • Perform literature search to identify why there is a workforce shortage in the transit industry.
  • Develop an annotated bibliography outlining the findings of the literature search.
  • Develop recommendations based on the previous tasks outlined above, to conclude the draft report.  
  • Submit the draft report in accordance with MTI formatting guidelines accompanied by data files in accordance with MTI’s Data Management Plan.
  • Respond accordingly to peer review comments when submitting a final report to MTI for publication.
Principal Investigator: 
Jodi Godfrey
PI Contact Information:

MTI Research Associate

June 2023 to December 2023
Impacts/Benefits of Implementation: 

Upon completion, the results of this research will be widely disseminated both academically and throughout industry associations. This research will be submitted for presentation and publication through many professional associations including, but not limited to, the Institute of Transportation Engineers (ITE), the American Public Transportation Association (APTA), WTS and the Transportation Research Board (TRB). 
The end users of this research will be policy makers, politicians, and academic professors who will be preparing the next generation of transportation professionals to enter the workforce. Additionally, agencies that are looking to improve their business culture and attract more employees will be end users of this research.  This research will provide recommendations on how to attract and retain more workers to the transit profession, and thus will be a beneficial tool to overcome some of the current workforce shortage challenges.

Project Number: 



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