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CTA Getting $750K From Feds To Train Bus Mechanics

CHICAGO (CBS) -- The CTA Tuesday was awarded a $750,000 grant to help it train the next generation of bus mechanics.

The grant is one of 19 announced Tuesday by the U.S. Department of Transportation that will benefit transit agencies and training schools in nine states.

The CTA initiative will be a part of the agency's successful Second Chance Program, which trains non-violent ex-offenders, victims of abuse, and others who face barriers to employment.

CTA President Dorval Carter calls it "a win-win situation for CTA and for candidates who commit to being successful."

Mayor Rahm Emanuel said the program will teach participants skills that will be in an increasing demand over the next decade. More than 500 people have participated in the program since May 2011. It currently provides jobs for 265 people, also including a number of workers who clean CTA 'L' trains, stations and buses.

CTA said seven Second Chance graduates have moved on to manager-level positions with the agency.

In addition to CTA, transit agencies or schools in New York, Cleveland, Minneapolis, Denver, the San Francisco Bay Area, Massachusetts, Maryland and Florida are receiving the grants, announced at a news conference in Los Angeles.

U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx said the demand for qualified workers to drive or repair vehicles and manage transit systems is far greater than the current supply, and said the grants will begin to help bridge this gap.

About 399,000 people worked in the public transit sector in 2013, according to the latest available data from the American Public Transportation Association. In all transportation sectors, employers will need 4.6 million new workers by 2022 - more than the sector currently employs, according to the Federal Transit Administration (FTA).

This is the Obama administration's third round of grants for transportation workforce training. FTA spokesperson Angela Gates said that in two prior rounds, 29 organizations received $10 million and trained hundreds of people.

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