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In the New York metropolitan region, there are over 50,000 people employed in rail transit in five separate public rail agencies, including both heavy rail (sometimes called subway or rapid rail) and commuter rail. This represents approximately two thirds of all rail transit employees in the United States. Each of these five agencies is struggling to provide quality service while containing their costs.

Training is an important way to improve productivity, efficiency, and quality of service. However, it requires a major commitment of resources. While the improvements in productivity and efficiency would more than repay the cost of training in the long term, transit agencies in general, but particularly the transit agencies in the New York metropolitan region, are operating under severe budget constraints. This makes it difficult to invest money in training which does not have an immediate payback. Thus, the dollars that are committed to training must be spent in ways to maximize their effect.

One way that these five agencies can stretch their training dollars is to combine forces in training. A combined or regional training program would allow them to eliminate duplicate programs, to provide special training in areas where any one of the agencies does not have enough people to warrant a program, to share the special expertise of specific trainers, and to purchase or develop special equipment or programs that would be too costly for one agency. On the other hand, there are difficulties with combining training efforts. These include differences between agencies in equipment and procedures, cost (in money and time) of transporting employees, timing of training courses to meet needs of individual agencies, and some loss of control over the training courses by individual agencies.

This report was also published by the U.S. Department of Transportation.

The following journal article is related to this research: Dr. Dr. Claire McKnight and Naomi Rotter, "Training and Evaluation in Commuter Railroads," Transportation Journal, Vol. 31, No. 2 (Winter 1991): 15-23