Georgia Piedmont Technical College (GPTC) is expanding its transportation training facility in order to train more students in bus maintenance technician programs, transit electronics and electrical power equipment technician programs.
The Trade Adjustment Assistance Community College and Career Training $3 million grant will fund expansion of the college’s training center on Marbut Road in Lithonia. Construction is expected to be completed by May 2015.
The government grant requires the college to train at least 380 students by 2016. School officials say they expect to exceed that mark.
“Our goal, with the help of our partners, is not only to serve the transportation training needs of the Metro Atlanta area, but the entire East Coast,” said (GPTC)GPTC President Jabari Simama. “Thanks to the $3 million grant, we will be able to transform this pavilion into a state-of-the-art transit training facility.”
College staff says with the expansion, the school could graduate 2,000 students by 2016. The school currently educates about 600 students in its transportation program.
Diplomas can be completed in one to two years and other training certificates can be earned in one to two semesters.
At a June 19 groundbreaking to celebrate the expansion, MARTA’s CEO Keith Parker said the training facility will be a good thing for metro Atlanta’s economy.
“The groundbreaking for this facility is a big deal to MARTA. We believe in education and we believe that with help, we can use this facility to build a great workforce,” Parker said. “This program has already produced 700 MARTA bus operator candidates and we look forward to hiring many more.”
Dr. Simama says the school was able to receive the grant because there is a shortage of transit workers in metro Atlanta and in the region. He says the college has demonstrated a great track record with its commercial driving program.
“Construction will add 1,000 square feet to the current 3,000 square-foot training center. The facility will offer training for bus drivers and supervisors to MARTA, Cobb and Gwinnett transit systems,” said Dr. Simama, who added that GPTC is the only accredited college to offer this type of training from here to Savannah. “This training program will prepare students for careers in Transportation Management, Capital Project Development and Planning, Vehicle Maintenance, as well as bus and rail operations.”
The annual earning potential of a graduate is $41,000 to $86,000.
GPTC offers seven transit training programs. Fall enrollment for classes that start on August 20, is underway now. The program is also looking to hire trained technicians to serve as instructors.