U.S. leaders take tour of Houston Metro’s Kashmere Bus Operations Facility

March 2, 2023
U.S. Secretary of Labor Marty Walsh and other labor leaders toured a Houston Metro training facility and got a first-hand look at the authority's first electric bus.

Metropolitan Transit Authority of Harris County (Houston Metro) officials, along with labor leaders from the Texas Gulf Coast Area Labor Federation, AFL-CIO and Transport Workers Union Local 260 (TWU) welcomed U.S. Secretary of Labor Marty Walsh, Deputy Secretary Julie Su, and White House National Climate Advisor Ali Zaidi to the authority's Kashmere Bus Operations Facility on Feb. 28

The Washington D.C. delegation toured a Houston Metro training facility and got a first-hand look at the authority's first electric bus following recent approval by Harris County of a $9.1 million investment in union apprenticeship programs made possible by funding from the American Rescue Plan Act and President Joe Biden’s Build Back Better agenda. Houston Metro will receive approximately $1.2 million to broaden its program and prepare mechanics for the coming transition to zero-emissions buses.

Secretary Walsh recognized TWU Local 260 and the authority, praising both for their collaborative efforts to expand green jobs and create economic opportunities for residents in traditionally underserved communities.

"We want to support people who want a decent paying job with health care, a pension and the opportunity to live with dignity," Walsh said.

Houston Metro Board Chair Sanjay Ramabhadran said the region will greatly benefit from the investment. Funding will allow Houston Metro to expand its current entry-level bus mechanic training program, doubling the number of transit bus repair technicians it trains each year and aid the authority in moving towards a more sustainable future by procuring only zero-emission buses by fiscal year 2030 — a key component of Houston Metro’s Climate Action Plan.

"On behalf of Houston Metro, I want to thank you for not only funding apprenticeship programs to ensure a strong workforce, but also clean energy to drive good-paying jobs," Ramabhadran said.

Zero-emissions training will also be provided to increase skills of other levels of mechanics, and the training program will be registered with the department of labor, allowing it to be accredited.

Houston Metro's training curriculum lasts 10 months and apprentices earn while they learn. The program includes extensive classroom coursework, simulation training and help to obtain a commercial driver license. Following training, participants move to a mentorship program, where they are guided for at least another year.