Public News


Veterans Job Training – Motion to Waive

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Vote Rejected (58-40, 2 Not Voting)

The Senate spent much of last week working on this bill that would have created a so-called jobs corps to assist Iraq and Afghanistan veterans in finding post-service employment. After invoking cloture on a motion to proceed to the bill, a substitute amendment by Veterans Affairs Chairwoman Patty Murray, D-Wash., was introduced.

Among other things, the amendment would have required states to issue certain licenses, such as for plumbing or truck driving, to veterans without the normal requirements if eligible applicants had at least 10 years’ experience in related military activities. Budget Committee Ranking Member Jeff Sessions, R-Ala., raised a point of order against the amendment that its costs exceeded the amount of funding allowed under current budgetary limitations. Majority Whip Dick Durbin, D-Ill., then moved to waive the point of order, which would have allowed the amendment to be debated. 60 votes are required to waive budgetary points of order, however, and proponents of the bill fell two votes shy. Sustaining the point of order effectively killed the bill.


Service Industry Urges Action to Fight Technician Shortage

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By Seth Clevenger, Staff Reporter
This story appears in the Sept. 24 print edition of Transport Topics.

PITTSBURGH — Facing the prospect of having to replace tens of thousands of technicians in the coming years, officials from the trucking and fleet maintenance industries have urged companies to work closely with educators as one way to attract new talent.

“It’s not a problem, it’s an impending crisis,” Bonne Karim, chairman of the Technology & Maintenance Council’s Professional Technician Development Committee, said of the technician shortage at a Sept. 12 session here during TMC’s fall meeting.

Total employment among truck and bus mechanics and diesel engine specialists is projected to climb 14.5% to 277,400 in 2020, from 242,200 in 2010, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Labor expects 87,800 job openings in this sector during the decade, with 35,200 resulting from growth and 52,600 because of workers retiring or leaving the industry.

The replacement figure is a “scary number,” said George Arrants, director of business development at Lincoln Technical Institute, which offers seven diesel programs. “Most of it is based on the aging workforce.”

Arrants is chairman of TMC’s SuperTech competition, an annual contest held in conjunction with the fall meeting to recognize top technicians and promote the profession (9-17, p. 1).
Detroit Diesel Corp. in 2010 estimated that half of its mechanics would retire by 2015, Preston Ingalls, CEO of consultancy TBR Strategies, told Transport Topics.

He cited statistics from job placement agency Manpower Inc. that found the largest worker shortage in the United States was in skilled trades such as mechanics and welders in several industries, including trucking.

That agency placed the lack of mechanics above the driver shortage.

Kevin Holland, senior manager, service training at Daimler Trucks North America, said a poll of the company’s dealers and distributors indicated DTNA’s service network will need to acquire an additional 6,400 technicians by 2020.

At the TMC session, Karim, a retired fleet training manager for the U.S. Postal Service, pointed to one Postal Service vehicle maintenance facility on the East Coast as an example of the shortage. She said the agency has never been able to hire a full complement of technicians since it opened about 14 years ago and currently is staffed at only 60%.

And the gap between the labor needed and the labor available is expected to widen, said Tim Lawrence, executive director of SkillsUSA, a national organization for students preparing for careers in technical occupations.

“It’s going to get worse unless we face it and come up with some solutions,” he said.

Some employers are addressing the shortage by partnering with schools and community colleges, and “planting those seeds early,” said Ray Wheeling, vice president of advanced training at Universal Technical Institute, which offers diesel training programs at eight of its 11 campuses.

Companies are hosting career events to showcase modern truck technology, he said. They also can use video conferences to bring their shops to the classroom and get high school students excited about the profession.

Kevin Tomlinson, director of maintenance for South Shore Transportation Co., Sandusky, Ohio, said parents sometimes push students away from the vocational field because they see it as unfulfilling, dirty and academically inferior.

“It’s a culture change. You have to make them think differently. Everybody in the industry is competing for the same individuals, and you have to let them know that those positions are out there,” Tomlinson said.

The industry must get the word out that the technician field is really not what they think it is, he said.
Lawrence, of SkillsUSA, said the companies that work with educators have a recruitment advantage.
“The employers who are inside the schools, helping build that pipeline, are the employers who are going to actually get those students,” he said.

Wheeling, of Universal Technical Institute, said the biggest challenge for technician students over the past few years has been the cost of training, coupled with their inability or reluctance to take on debt.
The companies with more ad-vanced recruiting strategies have used scholarships and sponsorships to combat this problem, he said.

Financial assistance can also take other forms. One large fleet, for example, is offering upward of $10,000 in tools after a year of employment, Wheeling said.

Assistance with tuition loans and relocation costs for new hires are other ways that companies are offering financial incentives.

Tom James, CEO of the Truck Renting and Leasing Association, said there’s “an incredible pool of potential job candidates in our military veterans.”

“You’re going to find people that have those basic employability skills, many people who already have the skills needed in the shops, and you’re going to be helping out people who have served our country,” James said.

“It’s not the answer to the shortage, but it’s a very good step in the right direction,” he added.

Senior Reporter Rip Watson contributed to this story


PTDI Expands across Borders as Regulations Become More Harmonized

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September 17, 2012
Contact: David Heller, PTDI Program Director
703-647-7015 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Alexandria, Virginia – With the increasing Internet visibility and harmonization of regulations across borders, the Professional Truck Driver Institute (PTDI) is expanding its reach in Canada and beyond as it continues to receive international requests.

For Louise Philbin, education director and founder of 5th Wheel Training Institute, in Haileybury, Ontario, Canada, which recently received PTDI course recertification at its two sites, that’s good news. The rural, northern Ontario school received its initial course certification in 2000. “At the time, PTDI certainly was a visionary idea in Canada,” said Philbin. “Today I see PTDI certification as even more relevant for us as a Canadian school with the increasing competition, the changes in regulations, and the North American Free Trade Agreement, which means there’s a lot more harmonization of standards between the two countries.

“Our students are prepared to cross over the border and drive in the states, because our program covers all the U.S. requirements and regulations.”

Philbin added that over the years, PTDI has become more attractive in that students recognize its importance through Internet exposure. “In years past, there was a lot of lip service to the standards, but now there’s an awareness that the higher standards are very important to students, to the trucking industry, to funders, and even to insurance companies, so now it’s become value-added for us to follow the same international standards.”

Al Gurka, site manager of Schuylkill Technology Center, in Pottsville, Penn., who also has offered PTDI-certified courses since 2000 and which were recently recertified, said, “The PTDI website is a great tool for us. Prospective students can check the website to see what kind of training they will receive. We’re a small school in Pennsylvania, so somebody who never heard of us can check the PTDI website, and it presents us with good credentials. And carriers absolutely check the PTDI website. They send us prospective students based on the fact that we have PTDI certification.”

Internet exposure has definitely broadened PTDI’s reach. Certification coordinator Marlene Dakita said that the institute has received inquiries and/or applications from educators not only in Canada and the U.S., but in Egypt, Guam, Guatemala, Mexico, and Saudi Arabia. They even had interest from a contractor working with the U.S. Army in Iraq. Plus, she regularly receives inquiries through PTDI’s Web site from prospective students looking for information on schools with a PTDI-certified course.

“We continue to get recertified because the PTDI certification gives us national and international recognition that some small schools don’t get,” Gurka explained. “And we know that if our students move to Canada, they would be recognized there as well.”

The current list of all schools with PTDI-certified courses can be found at


DOT encourages you to subscribe to the MAP-21 list

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Emailed from Department of Transportation:


As a subscriber to updates from the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT), we thought you might be interested in hearing about the historic transportation legislation recently passed by Congress, Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century (MAP-21). The new legislation requires DOT to develop implementation guidelines. We want to make sure that interested stakeholders can stay informed of our progress. We will communicate relevant events and milestones in this important task through the MAP-21 list, and we encourage you to subscribe to the MAP-21 list.


For example, subscribers to the “MAP-21” list received this email:


We are pleased to announce the launch of two National On-Line Dialogues focused on MAP-21 Implementation. These virtual sessions provide stakeholders with an opportunity to provide insights about priorities and implementation strategies on these two issues and will be open from September 13 to 23, 2012.


National Online Dialogue on MAP-21 Transportation Performance Measures
Please join this important dialogue to discuss and provide suggestions on the establishment of performance measures and standards (standards include items such as metrics, data collection, data sources, etc.) for States, MPOs, and/or transit grantees to use to assess the performance and condition of their transportation systems.


National Online Dialogue on MAP-21 Freight Policy
We hope that you log on to this dialogue and offer your suggestions on possible measures for the conditions and performance of a freight system and what should be included in the development of guidance for state freight plans.

These Online Dialogues are free and open to all and will be accessible 24/7 so that you can easily log on from home.  You will have the opportunity to submit, comment on and rate ideas interactively with colleagues from across the country, creating a national exchange of ideas, suggestions and strategies for implementing these specific aspects of MAP-21.


If these online dialogues or other opportunities to learn more about MAP-21 appeal to you, please sign-up for MAP-21 Updates from DOT to continue to receive notices about our implementation efforts. You may also feel free to join the dialogues listed above.


DOT Announces $59.3 Million for Clean, Energy-Efficient Transit Projects

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WASHINGTON – U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood today announced that 27 projects will receive a combined $59.3 million to help transit agencies purchase and support cleaner, greener buses that reduce harmful emissions and improve fuel economy while also delivering a more comfortable, reliable ride for passengers. The funds from the Federal Transit Administration’s (FTA) FY 2012 Clean Fuels Grant Program will help achieve President Obama’s goal for an independent and secure energy future.

“President Obama is committed to investing in sustainable transportation systems that improve access to jobs, education and medical care for millions of riders, while bringing cleaner air to our communities and reducing our dependence on oil,” said Secretary LaHood. “These projects will also help transit agencies operate more efficiently, and save money in the long run.”

The types of projects selected to receive funding include replacing aging diesel buses with new hybrid-electric, compressed natural gas (CNG) or zero-emissions electric vehicles; building new fueling stations to accommodate alternative-fuel vehicles; and purchasing new clean-fuel hybrid batteries for buses.

“As more and more Americans choose to ride the bus to work and elsewhere, it’s good to know that they can depend on vehicles that won’t pollute their neighborhoods while also helping us to achieve greater energy independence,” said FTA Administrator Rogoff. “By investing in these clean-fuel projects today, we’re helping to ensure that the nation’s transit services are good for the environment for years to come.”

Demand for FY2012 funding was competitive, with FTA receiving 146 project applications totaling $516 million. A list of all 27 project selections, and a related map, can be found here:

Some projects selected for funding include:

$3.3 million for the St. Cloud Metropolitan Transit Commission in St. Cloud, Minnesota to renovate its Metro Bus Operations Center so the facility can accommodate a fleet of compressed natural gas (CNG) fueled vehicles and a CNG fueling station.

$4.4 million for the Transit Authority of River City in Louisville, Kentucky, to replace outdated, high-emission trolley cars with zero-emission buses, which will bring the transit system into compliance with federal clean air requirements for the first time and enable the transit authority to save on operating costs for years to come.

$2.5 million for Florida’s Miami-Dade County to retrofit older buses with new electric engine cooling systems that will improve fuel economy, reduce emissions, and prolong the life of the transit bus fleet; and

$4.5 million for the Worcester Regional Transit Authority in Worcester, Massachusetts, to replace aging diesel transit buses with zero-emission, all-electric buses, which will reduce greenhouse gas emissions, decrease fuel consumption, and save on operating costs.

In FY 2010 and FY 2011, FTA’s Clean Fuels Program awarded $89.7 million for 36 projects and $62.8 million for 29 projects, respectively. This year’s projects were competitively selected based on their ability to help communities achieve or maintain the National Ambient Air Quality Standards for ozone and carbon monoxide while supporting emerging clean fuel and advanced propulsion technologies for transit buses.

Transit ridership across the U.S. has increased 16 out of the last 19 months, and in July 2012, ridership was up by 2.5 percent over the prior 12-month period.


California Poised to Enact Huge Climate-Change Plan

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By Paul Wagenseil,

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — California's utilities, refineries and large factories must transform their operations to cut greenhouse gas emissions as part of a new climate plan before state regulators.

On Thursday, the California Air Resources Board was expected to adopt what would be the nation's most sweeping global warming plan, outlining for the first time how individuals and businesses would meet a landmark 2006 law that made the state a leader on global climate change.

It would hold California's worst polluters accountable for the heat-trapping emissions they produce — transforming how people travel, utilities generate power and businesses use electricity.

At the heart of the plan is the future creation of a carbon-credit market designed to give the state's major polluters cheaper ways to cut emissions.

If adopted, the plan would set clear strategies for how the country's most populous state plans to cut emissions at a time many governments around the world are struggling with a financial crisis that threatens to undermine efforts to fight climate change.

California's 2006 law, called the Global Warming Solutions Act, mandates the state cut emissions to 1990 levels by 2020.

The strategy chosen by air regulators relies on 31 new rules affecting all facets of life, from what fuels Californians put in their vehicles to what kind of air conditioners businesses put in their buildings.

The average Californian, for example, can expect to pay to have his or her car tires inflated during oil changes and to pay higher power bills as utilities try to increase their use of renewable energy.

He or she could also see more fuel-efficient cars at dealerships, better public transportation, new housing near schools and businesses, and utility rebates to equip homes to be more energy efficient.

New fees and reporting requirements will accompany the emission rules.

Finding ways to implement California's target has not been without controversy.

Republicans, small businesses and major industries that will be forced to change their operations say jobs could be lost, companies might leave the state and energy prices will skyrocket.

California's nonpartisan legislative analyst and independent scientists have criticized some of the air board's research, saying the costs to the state could be greater than projected. Assemblyman Roger Niello, R-Fair Oaks, has asked the board to postpone its vote and perform a more thorough economic analysis... Continue reading.