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Human Resources

Being a transit manager is not just about overseeing buses and schedules, it is also about building a team of workers and creating a positive and productive environment. This section will discuss different policies and tactics you can use during the hiring process and after to create an environment that will help your employees work to their full potentials and increase customer satisfaction. 

If your transit operation is a division of a larger organization you may already have well-established human resources policies and procedures that will guide you in your personnel administration activities.However, because transit is federally funded there are policies and procedures that apply to transit and nothing else in the organization. An example might be the FTA Drug and Alcohol requirements. There are ADA requirements regarding how you work with your passengers that may be unfamiliar to others in your organization. It is your responsibility as the transit manager to ensure that others in your organization understand some of the special conditions you face while operating your system. The many resources listed in this section can assist you in that endeavor. 

Interviewing and hiring

The Human Resources section of the FTA Bus Safety and Security Resource Library has a number of informational documents and samples that can be used when creating job descriptions, employment applications, policies for background checks, and interviewing and selecting applicants.  

If you would like to review sample job descriptions and salary ranges as part of your recruitment efforts, National RTAP completed a job title and salary range survey of rural and tribal public transit agencies in February 2018.  We received responses from 268 agencies providing information about job title and salary range. 

The downloadable zip file contains the database and a summary table. In the database, you are able to filter and sort each column of data by clicking on the  arrow to the right of the column title.  Once you click on the arrow you will see a list of options.  You can sort/filter by FTA Region, job title, union, CDL, full/part-time and/or salary range. 


Creating a positive work environment

In order to have an agency that provides good customer service and transit operations, it is important to create and maintain a positive work environment for all of your employees.  While creating a positive work environment is the responsibility of everyone on staff, managers are in a position to be the change they want to see in their staff. In leading by example, you can foster and transfer habits to the rest of your employees.  Carol Wright, in her presentation on ‘Choosing Your Attitude,’ gives these tips and tricks to keep in mind (at the time of the presentation, Carol Wright was the Associate Director of Training and Outreach at the Upper Great Plains Transportation Institute’s Small Urban and Rural Transit Center):
  • Attitude is communicated to others in three ways:  7% by words; 38% by tone of voice; and 55% in nonverbal mannerisms
  • Think of three things that happened at work each day that were positive
  • A good attitude does not happen by chance but comes from conscious effort
  • Take ownership over your own attitude.  Reflect on the steps you have taken to improve the quality of your work environment
  • Be sure to acknowledge the positive changes, no matter how small
  • Decide to make a difference and act as if you can make a change because you can

To view Carol Wright’s full presentation, please click here.

To learn more about the Small Urban and Rural Transit Center, and the trainings they provide, please click here.


Employees should receive the training necessary to perform the tasks related to their jobs, both when they first begin working at your agency and continually after as refresher training.  The training you are required to provide will vary based on the type of work the employee is performing, whether it is safety sensitive or not, and your funding sources.  For example, subrecipients of Section 5311 funding are required by the FTA to conduct drug and alcohol training for all safety sensitive employees as well as ADA training for certain staff members.  For more information on the requirements of the Section 5311 program, see the 5311 Grant Management Requirements section of  this toolkit.  For more information on your state’s requirements, please consult with your state’s department of transportation.

Training programs are successful when learners are able to apply new knowledge to everyday workplace responsibilities.  In order to ensure successful learning, agencies must develop training programs that understand and cater to their audiences– adult learners.  Focusing on creating a welcoming atmosphere,dynamic physical space, interactive presentation style, and content appropriate for your audience will reach and engage your learners.  For more information about training adult learners, see the National RTAP Technical Brief “Training Adult Learners:  How to Reach and Engage Your Audience.”

Training resources:
National Rural Transit Assistance Program (RTAP)                            
Easter Seals Project ACTION                                                                    
Small Urban and Rural Transit Center (SURTC)                                  
National Transit Institute (NTI)                                                                  
Community Transportation Association of America (CTAA) 


There are many policies of which both your management team and employees should be aware.  A good way to get this information to your employees is through an employee handbook that is distributed upon hire.  Included here are the federal regulations for each issue, but you are encouraged to defer to local policies where they might exist.
  • Drug and Alcohol Testing- as a subrecipient of 5311 funds you are required to have a drug and alcohol testing program.  The FTA’s Office of Safety and Security provides technical assistance materials and training information for grantees that might have questions about alcohol testing rules.   For more information, please see the Drug and Alcohol Programs section of this toolkit. 

*Note: if you are a tribe that is a direct recipient of Section 5311 funding, you are also required to comply with the Drug-Free Workplace Act of 1988.  For more information, please see the Department of Labor website.

  • Sexual harassment – sexual harassment is a type of sex discrimination, and employees are protected under the civil rights nondiscrimination requirement.  According to the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, “sexual harassment involves both unwelcome sexual advances/requests and harassment that is not of a sexual nature.  An example of harassment that is not sexual in nature is making offensive comments to a woman about women in general.  Harassment is illegal when it is so frequents or so severe that it creates a hostile or offensive work environment or when it results in an adverse employment decision.”    

For more information about sexual harassment, and to view facts about the subject,see the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission here.
For more information on civil rights, please see that section of this toolkit or visit the FTA Civil Rights webpage.

  • Nondiscrimination – any recipient of federal funding is responsible for its own compliance and the compliance of each third party contractor at any tier and each subrecipient at any tier under the Project, with the provisions of 49 U.S.C. 5332. According to the provisions, you cannot discriminate on the basis of race, color, creed, national origin, sex, or age, nor can you discriminate in employment or business opportunity.

For more information about nondiscrimination,please see the FTA Civil Rights webpage.

  • Family Medical Leave Act – The Department of Labor states that the FMLA “entitles eligible employees of covered employers to take unpaid, job-protected leave for specified family and medical reasons with continuation of group health insurance coverage under the same terms and conditions as if the employee had not taken leave.”  According to the Department of Labor's Family and Medical Leave Act webpage, eligible employees are entitled to:

o  Twelve workweeks of leave in a 12-month period for:

1.       the birth of a child and to care for the newborn child within one year of birth;

2.       the placement with the employee of a child for adoption or foster care and to care for the newly placed child within one year of placement;

3.       to care for the employee’s spouse, child, or parent who has a serious health condition;

4.       a serious health condition that makes the employee unable to perform the essential functions of his or her job;

5.       any qualifying exigency arising out of the fact that the employee’s spouse, son, daughter, or parent is a covered military member on “covered active duty;” or

o  Twenty-six work weeks of leave during a single 12-month period to care for a covered service member with a serious injury or illness who is the spouse, son, daughter, parent, or next-of-kin to the employee (military caregiver leave).

Working with unions

If you have unionized employees, it is important to have a good working relationship with the head of the union.  As a transit manager, you, along with your governing body, have the authority to create policies and procedures within your organization.  However, discussing issues with union representation and keeping the union informed of areas that effect the work of their membership is crucial.  Working with a union can be positive and productive if both sides are committed to open communication and fair implementation of policies and procedures. 

Section sources


Updated May 30, 2018