Applications accepted through March 26 for Public Transportation Apprenticeships and Internships

Experience in a chosen field is an important thing to have when looking for a job; however, getting that initial experience in the first place can be challenging. For current college seniors and graduate students, the N.C. Department of Transportation Public Transportation Division’s Apprenticeship and Internship programs offer the real-world experience necessary to pursue a career in the field of public transportation. Due to recent winter weather, the application period has been extended to 5 p.m. Wednesday, March 26.

The Public Transportation Internship Program gives graduate students the opportunity to work in the field of public transportation while completing their graduate degree. One internship is available through this year’s program with Chapel Hill Transit in Orange County. More information on the 12-month paid internship can be found here.

The Public Transportation Apprenticeship Program gives current college seniors the opportunity to work in the field of public transportation management upon receiving their undergraduate degree. A total of nine apprenticeships are available in Asheville, Charlotte, Durham, Greensboro, Fayetteville, the Triangle and Wilmington. More information on the 12-month paid apprenticeships can be found here.

To apply for the internship or one of the nine apprenticeships, interested applicants must complete a State of North Carolina Employment Application, as well as other required documents, which can be found on the NCDOT Public Transportation Division website under the “Apprenticeships and Internships” heading.

Debbie Collins Named Public Transportation Division Director

Debbie Collins has joined the ranks of NCDOT’s Public Transportation Division as director. Debbie started February 3 and oversees the day-to-day operations of the division, which fosters the development of intercity, urban and rural public transportation in North Carolina.

“Debbie is a seasoned professional, with a deep knowledge of public transportation,” said NCDOT Deputy Secretary for Transit Richard Walls. “Her experience and expertise will not only be of great benefit to the division, but also to the public transportation systems serving all 100 counties of North Carolina.”

Debbie comes to NCDOT from N.C. State University’s Institute for Transportation Research and Education (ITRE) where she previously served as co-director of the Institute’s Public Transportation Group, as well as program manager for the Urban Transit Assistance Program and manager of the North Carolina Transit Program.

Prior to her time at ITRE, Debbie worked with the Virginia Department of Highways and Transportation, the Virginia Highway and Transportation Research Council and the City of High Point, and held several positions with the Winston-Salem Transit Authority. She is a 1977 graduate of Mary Washington College in Fredericksburg, Va. where she received a Bachelor of Arts in Economics and Political Science. She also holds a Master of Science in Civil Engineering from the University of Virginia in Charlottesville, Va.

In addition to her work experience and participation in several national public transportation projects, Debbie has served on several boards and committees including the North Carolina Public Transportation Association, the American Public Transit Association (APTA) Technology Procurement Working Group and the Institute of Transportation Engineers Technical Advisory Group on Planning for ITS Transit Training Standards Modules. She was also the recipient of the NCDOT Governor’s Award for Public Transportation in 2000.

A native of Lexington, Va., Collins lives in Salisbury with her husband, Rip. The couple has two children, Will and Casey.

Public Transportation Division Staff First to Receive Safety Certifications through USDOT

After two years of hard work in addition to their day-to-day responsibilities, three Public Transportation Division employees have reached and exceeded a goal that will not only benefit the department, but will also have a lasting, positive impact on the riders of North Carolina’s transit systems.

Safety and Security Program Manager Richard Jones (far left in picture) and Security Specialist Henry Staten (far right in picture) are the first in the history of the division to acquire Manager of Environmental, Safety and Health Programs (MESH), and Transit Safety and Security Program (TSSP) certifications. Safety and Security Specialist Malcum Massenburg (center in picture) has also received TSSP certification and is currently completing requirements for MESH certification. These achievements are vital to the oversight of safety at the rural and small urban public transportation systems that serve riders in all 100 North Carolina counties.

“Working directly with North Carolina’s transit systems, we have seen first-hand the importance of safety training not only for the safety of vehicle operators, but for the safety and well-being of all citizens who depend on these services to get where they need to go on a daily basis,” said Jones. “We are grateful for the support of Secretary Tony Tata and Deputy Secretary Richard Walls and hope that these certifications will enable us to help the department reach its goal of connecting people and places safely.”

The initial goal of Jones, Massenburg and Staten was to acquire the MESH certification to help improve safety oversight and provide technical assistance to transit agencies across the state, as well as give them the tools to better develop and implement various safety and security program plans. The MESH certificate program is sponsored by the N.C. Department of Labor, North Carolina State University Industrial Extension Service, and the Safety and Health Council of North Carolina.

While working on the required 100 course hours for MESH certification, the Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century (MAP-21) federal law was passed. As part of this law, federal and state employees who conduct safety audits and examinations of public transportation systems are now required to receive safety certification. To meet this requirement, Jones, Massenburg and Staten began training to earn the Transit Safety and Security Program (TSSP) certification provided through the USDOT Transportation Safety Institute (TSI)/Research and Innovative Technology Administration (RITA).

TSI’s training is the epitome of USDOT’s safety, security and emergency management training concept. The training takes into account the implementation of MAP-21 in addition to the latest requirements of the National Incident Management System (NIMS), and Transit Rail Regulation 49 CFR Part 659. To receive certification, several courses must be completed in the areas of transit safety and security, focusing on effectively managing emergencies, processes for investigating bus collisions, bus system safety and transit system security. 

By completing the required courses for TSSP, Jones, Massenburg and Staten now have a broad-based understanding of safety and security principles applicable to transit operations and management, and the knowledge to develop and implement safety and security program plans.

In addition to receiving MESH and TSSP training, the trio also completed TSI courses in substance abuse management and program compliance, reasonable suspicion determination and transit industrial safety management. By completing these additional courses, Jones, Massenburg and Staten now qualify to receive a World Safety Organization (WSO) certification. The WSO offers multiple certifications in the area of safety in the fields of construction, technology and transportation, just to name a few.

The Public Transportation Division’s Safety and Security Program serves as a resource for transit systems serving riders in all 100 North Carolina counties. The program performs safety oversight at transit systems and provides safety training for system employees.

From the Director

Another fiscal year has come to a close and the Public Transportation Division is working hard to make sure that Fiscal Year 2014 is off to a great start.

FY 2013 was a great year for public transportation in North Carolina. Systems across the state broke ground on new facilities, opened new offices, began new services and coordinated with other modes of transportation to provide residents of the state with safe, reliable transportation.

In this issue of In Transit, you’ll see just a few examples of the great things our state’s public transportation systems are doing.

Internally, the Public Transportation Division has been growing and changing to better serve our customers. In addition to dividing the state into 10 regions, each with a mobility development specialist, division staff are working on initiatives that will ultimately improve efficiency in public transportation, including prioritization of public transportation projects and regionalization of transit systems.

I am also making sure that staff understand what is going on in public transportation on a local level. Public Transportation Division staff members are continuing to travel across the state to work directly with transit systems in their own regions. Staff even traveled to High Point earlier this year to visit the High Point Furniture Market to see first-hand the difference public transportation dollars are making for the international market and the economy of High Point.

Our division also recognizes the responsibility we have as a part of the N.C. Department of Transportation to educate those outside of the public transportation field on what the Public Transportation Division does and why public transportation is so important to North Carolina's infrastructure. Earlier this spring, Public Transportation Division staff participated in a two-day workshop for new division planning engineers at NCDOT. More than 75 people attended the workshop and left with a better understanding of why public transportation is vital in transportation planning.

The new fiscal year is sure to bring new challenges, along with new opportunities. I applaud our transit systems for the milestones they continue to achieve as they better the lives of those who rely on public transportation in North Carolina.


Teresa A. Hart, PE, CPM

AppalCART Ribbon Cutting and Open House - Aug. 2, 2013

Former Greenville Area Transit Manager Inducted into North Carolina Transportation Hall of Fame

One of public transportation’s own was part of the latest class of inductees for the 2012 North Carolina Transportation Hall of Fame. On Aug. 27, 2012, former Greenville Area Transit (GREAT) Manager Nancy Harrington joined the elite group of people who have each contributed to the advancement of various modes of transportation in North Carolina.

Harrington, a native of Goldsboro and graduate of the University of Tampa, began her career in public service at Greenville’s Recreation Department from 1977-1979. From there she worked with the Mid-East Commission in Washington, N.C. before returning to Greenville in 1981 to write applications for transportation grants. From 1988 until her retirement in January 2012, Harrington served as transit manager at GREAT. During her time at the system, GREAT doubled ridership and increased service, making Greenville accessible to as many people as possible. In addition to her work at GREAT, Harrington served on the N.C.Public Transportation Association board of directors of two terms. Harrington is a member of the Carolinas Association for Passenger Trains and volunteers for the American Cancer Society, as well as at a local nursing home.

Nancy was introduced by 2008 inductee Wendell Edwards, former executive director of the Choanoke Public Transportation Authority. Other inductees into the 2012 North Carolina Transportation Hall of Fame include RDU International Airport Retired Director John C. Brantley III; Waters Buggy Works Founder Gilbert S. Waters; pilot, master mechanic and flight instructor Edwin Foy Pullen; NCDOT Rail Division Retired Director Patrick B. Simmons; and Tidewater Transit Founder and Retired President Charles W. Smith.

The next North Carolina Transportation Hall of Fame will take place in 2014. Nominations for inductees are being accepted through the end of 2013. If you are interested in nominating a family member, friend or coworker for the 2014 North Carolina Transportation Hall of Fame, contact David Robinson with the N.C. Transportation Hall of Fame at 919-272-0063 for more information.

Public Transportation Helps Feed Residents of Rutherford County

With the assistance of funds through NCDOT, Rutherford County Transit is helping connect those in need with a local food bank through a unique partnership.

In January, after seeing signs along the side of the road numerous times advertising free food at Storehouse Pantry, a local food pantry, Rutherford County Transportation Services Director Kerry Giles decided to learn more about the service and investigate ways that the transit system could help get the food to those who need it the most.

Within a week, Rutherford County Transit began offering free transportation to Storehouse Pantry on Thursdays to residents who don’t have access to transportation.

“This partnership is a perfect marriage of services,” said Giles. “The pantry provides the food and we eliminate the transportation barrier, ensuring that people are able to get to the food that they need – it just made sense.”

Approximately 100 residents use the service a month, and Giles is looking at ways to increase those numbers.

“We use five vans that seat eight people. With food on board, we can only fit four people on each vehicle,” said Giles. “We’re working with local churches to set up a schedule where they use their vehicles to transport the food so we can fill our vans with more people.”

In addition to transporting more people per vehicle, Rutherford County Transit is also looking at expanding hours of the service, which would enable the system to possibly schedule two runs per vehicle. They’re also running some routes on Tuesdays to accommodate residents from areas with a higher need. Giles is also looking to partner with other free food distribution sites in the area to increase the amount of food making its way to those who need it in Rutherford County.

How it Works:
Every Thursday from 11 a.m. until 1 p.m., Rutherford County Transit vans pick up residents of various communities. The current schedule is as follows:

  • 1st Thursday – Forest City, Cliffside and Henrietta;
  • 2nd Thursday – Spindale, Ruth and Green Hill;
  • 3rd Thursday – Sunshine Bostic and Golden Valley;
  • 4th Thursday – Ellenboro, Mooresboro and Harris.

The service is offered on a first-come, first-served basis. Due to limited seating, interested riders must call in advance to reserve a seat. Upon arrival, riders must bring a form of identification, as well as proof of residency, such as a utility bill. Storehouse Pantry requires anyone interested in receiving free food to fill out an eligibility form.

Residents can only ride once a month. One person per household, 18-years-old or older, can ride. No coolers can be brought on board and cancellations must be made at least 24 hours in advance.

The Public Transportation Division supports Rutherford County Transit through the Rural Operating Assistance Program.

Kerr-Tar Job Access and Regional Mobility Project

Having reliable transportation to and from work is a necessity. For many people, not having an option for transportation can mean the difference between having a job, or being unemployed. While urban systems continue to expand or maintain services for all riders, in rural areas of the state, public transportation may not be as viable of an option for the general public. Due to limited resources and funding, most service in rural areas is focused on the transportation of the elderly, or Medicaid patients, traveling to and from doctor visits, appointments, etc. Systems that are able to serve the general public may not be able to operate during hours that best fit the needs of those who would use the service for travel to and from work.

To improve access to public transportation for all who wish to use it in Franklin, Granville, Person, Vance and Warren counties, the Kerr-Tar Regional Council of Governments’ Regional Transportation Planning Organization (RPO) and Workforce Development Department, along with local human service, education, planning, transportation and economic development staff, are working on a project to increase the availability of transit options. The project is through the Community Transportation Association of America’s (CTAA) Job Access Mobility Institute and is designed to meet the goal of efficiently connecting individuals with limited vehicle access to employment and other daily needs. 

Through spring of this year, the team has drafted prototypes of concept projects, such as changing the perception of who can use public transportation, modifying fixed-route services and schedules that are already in place, recommending new service, and creating a community connect network – a program that connects people who already travel to certain destinations to those in need of a ride. Research is underway within the community amongst potential users to refine these concepts into final prototypes. CTAA will provide micro grants of up to $3,000 for this part of the process; and the U.S.Department of Agriculture is reviewing a technical grant application to help one regional transportation partner set

As an unforeseen second benefit of this program, the partners discovered during their research that in local high schools, special needs students who were taught the basics of living independently were not being taught how to use public transportation. As a result, the Kerr-Tar Regional Transportation Planning Organization is working with the local school system to develop a curriculum that will teach students how to use public transportation, therefore giving them better access to jobs and increasing their quality of life.

For more information on the project, go to

Cape Fear Public Transportation Authority Breaks Ground on New Operations Center (From Wave Transit)

After years of planning, searching for property and securing funding, the Cape Fear Public Transportation Authority (Wave Transit) broke ground for construction of the transit system's new Operations and Maintenance facility on Thursday, May 23, just north of Wilmington. A contract in the amount of $8.9 million for construction of the Operations Center was awarded to Clancy & Theys Construction Co. on April 25. The groundbreaking took place at the future site of the operations center at 1480 Castle Hayne Road.

“Although the process of constructing this important public transportation infrastructure has taken longer than we anticipated, we are confident that the end result will be an environmentally-friendly facility that will take advantage of the current construction market and provide our employees a safe environment for maintaining the investment we have in our fleet of buses and vans,” said Cape Fear Public Transportation Authority Chairman David Scheu. “This project will also create hundreds of jobs in the local community and remove an industrial bus garage from the residential Bottom neighborhood off of Castle Street.”

The facility is primarily funded by the Federal Transit Administration through their State of Good Repair initiative. Additional funding is being secured from NCDOT and local financial support is being provided by utilizing the value of the property as matching funds. In addition to creating a safer and more responsible maintenance and operations center, the facility will include a compressed natural gas (CNG) fueling station and the Authority plans to begin introducing CNG buses shortly after the facility is complete.