Skip to main content

Empowering Future Leaders Through ATU Mentorship Programs

The ATU’s industry-leading mentorship programs play a vital role in the development and success of transit workers across North America. As transit workers retire, mentorship programs become instrumental in succession planning. Developed by our Locals and their transit agencies with assistance from the International, these programs offer a structured framework for experienced transit professionals to share their knowledge, skills, and insights, ensuring that industry best practices are passed down from one generation of transit workers to the next.

Our mentorship programs are not only important for professional development, but they also help build community and solidarity and foster diversity and inclusion. “Within the ATU, mentorship programs aren’t just about passing on knowledge,” said International President John Costa. “Mentorship programs are the engines that propel the next generation of transit leaders towards a future where expertise meets innovation.”

We highlight a few of these innovative programs at Locals across our Union.


Local 587-Seattle, WA

Our Local 587-Seattle, WA, recently kicked off its Mentors Moving Metro, a joint program with King County Metro, training more than 40 Local veteran Transit Operators members to become Mentors for new Operators.  The new program aims to provide comprehensive support, leveraging the wealth of experience held by veteran drivers to guide the next generation of bus operators.

“A mentorship program for new Transit Operators will provide valuable support and knowledge based on the professional experience of our seasoned Operators,” said Local President/Business Agent Ken Price. “Nothing can compare to hands-on experience and guidance from our veteran Operators.” The program goes beyond traditional driver training, recognizes that being a Transit Operator involves various skills, including customer service and safety protocols.


Local 1546-Baton Rouge, LA

In Baton Rouge, Louisiana, our Local 1546 announced a groundbreaking partnership with the Capital Area Transit System (CATS) to introduce the Joint Labor/Management Apprenticeship/Mentorship Operator Pilot Program to elevate the skills and success of newly hired bus operators.

The six to twelve-month program, the first of its kind in Louisiana, is set to establish a new standard for excellence. By successfully completing the pilot program, our Local will be one step closer to officially registering our initiative with the State of Louisiana. This offers us a tremendous opportunity to make a positive impact in the community and create a brighter future for our members.


Local 697-Toledo, OH

Thanks to the dedication and hard work of our Local 697-Toledo, OH, and the efforts of Local President/Business Agent Carly Allen, an innovative mentorship program with TARTA came to life after nearly four years of planning partly delayed due to COVID and TARTA’s reluctance to start a mentorship program.

After a new leadership team at TARTA took over and a worker retention rate at 51%, the agency finally embraced the idea of a mentorship program.

“It took years to push this project over the finish line.  The members knew we needed to do something differently to help keep people around. The mentorship program is the change we needed,” said Allen. “The work our members do is not just a job, it’s a profession that requires skills that must be developed.” 

The first class graduated 9 mentors with more on the way. 

The trust between the Local and TARTA built through the implementation of this mentorship program has now paved the way for the Local’s next program, a full-blown apprenticeship program for the TARTA maintenance department.