Transportation Workforce Crisis: Denver Cuts Transit Service Due to Staff Shortages

Transportation Workforce Crisis: Denver Cuts Transit Service Due to Staff Shortages

October 25, 2019  | Robert Puentes

The nation’s workforce challenges are well known. Much is written about the workforce pipeline challenges of drivers in the trucking and logistics sectors but similar challenges exist in public transit and construction. Eno highlighted the range of transportation workforce issues in a special issue of Eno Transportation Weekly a few weeks ago.

But in some ways, the problem feels abstract as the problem is either long term or locked in with deeper topics about the labor market in general.

That may be changing. A recent story out of Denver shows that the regional transportation agency is being forced to scale back their transit service due to a lack of drivers and maintenance personnel. While the reduction in service is relatively minor it does highlight the impacts of a tight labor market on transportation. The agency has resources to hire 60 rail operators and 80 bus drivers, but those jobs remain unfilled.

The nation needs to identify solutions that will encourage greater awareness around careers in transportation and ensure these workforce opportunities are transparent, accessible, and impactful. Eno already collaborates with nine major transit agencies around the country to conduct leadership development and inter-agency networking to build a network of professionals. A couple cities—notably Los Angeles—are building brick-and-mortar schools to train and attract the transportation workforce of tomorrow.

But we clearly need to do more. The strengths, challenges, needs, and opportunities available in transportation careers needs to be better understood. It should be elevated to a critical area of public policy and connected to broader discussions of the national economy. And better linkages need to be made between labor, government, and academia. The time is clearly now.

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