The Utah Transit Authority (UTA) has selected Xpan Interactive (Xpan) to drive workforce development via Rail Apprenticeship Training Programs. Also, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) is awarding nearly $10.3 million to the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA) for COVID-19 cleaning and safety costs.
With more than two decades of experience supporting competency development in the global mobility industry, UTA says Xpan was the “logical partner” for the expansion of its apprenticeship training programs, which will focus on UTA rail assets and includes three three-year-long program offerings: Light Rail Vehicle Maintenance, Maintenance-of-Way and Commuter Rail Vehicle Maintenance.
“Our bus maintenance apprenticeship program has been an incredible success for UTA, so it was a logical decision to expand our offering to support skill development in our rail division,” says Cherryl Beveridge, UTA’s Acting Chief Operating Officer. “We train approximately 40 apprentices in our bus maintenance apprentice program and see 10 graduates from our program annually creating lifetime careers at UTA.”
Each program will leverage the latest methods in adult education and include high-quality content that will be a mix of eLearning, interactive simulations, instructor-led Training, labs, and on-the-job training to meet learner needs while incorporating safety and regulatory requirements. To host ILT and lab-based training activities, UTA is constructing a facility called the Transit Technical Education Center (TTEC) where learners will be able to perform exercises in a safe, controlled environment.
“Creating blended learning solutions for the transportation industry has been the core of Xpan’s 20-year history,” says Xpan Founder and President Ron Thiele. “We’re incredibly grateful to shape the future of UTA’s workforce with Xpan digital knowledge experiences, and love that our solution will create accessible career opportunities for individuals without the financial burden typically associated with education.”
The program development is scheduled for completion in January 2023, and following the successful construction of training facilities, UTA’s first classes of aspiring apprentices will begin their career journeys shortly after.
To reimburse the MBTA for the cost of keeping its public transit systems safe and operating during the COVID-19 pandemic, FEMA will be sending the Authority a $10,288,865 Public Assistance grant for the costs associated with disinfecting equipment and facilities between July and September 2020, as well as other steps taken to protect the public and its employees.
The MBTA used contract labor and paid overtime for its employees to disinfect the subway (Red, Orange, Blue, and Green Lines), bus (171 bus routes and four rapid transit routes), commuter rail, ferry and The RIDE (MBTA’s door-to-door paratransit service) systems.
The MBTA also provided personal protective equipment, such as gloves, masks, hand sanitizer and wipes to its personnel; installed barriers between operators and the public; and installed signage and crowd control measures at various locations throughout the system.
“FEMA is pleased to be able to assist the MBTA with these costs,” said FEMA Region 1 Regional Administrator Lori Ehrlich. “Keeping public transit operating safely during the pandemic was critical to allowing essential workers to continue to commute to their jobs, as well as providing service to the general public.”
FEMA’s Public Assistance program is an essential source of funding for states and communities recovering from a federally declared disaster or emergency. So far, FEMA has provided more than $1 billion in Public Assistance grants to Massachusetts to reimburse the commonwealth for pandemic-related expenses.