State/Local Training & Technical Assistance

RLS & Associates, Inc. (RLS) provides a variety of support and technical assistance to State DOTs and their FTA subrecipients to ensure not only on-going compliance with state and federal requirements and regulations, but also to enhance and improve the provision of efficient, effective, and safe transit services.

Conferences

RLS’ professional staff are regularly featured as presenters at local, State, and National meetings and conferences across the country to address a diverse range of topics, including but not limited to the FTA drug and alcohol program, financial management, 2 CFR 200 regulations, compliance reviews and monitoring, cost allocation, regional and statewide coordination, and transit asset management. Examples include the Annual FTA Drug and Alcohol Program Conference, CTAA EXPO, National Rural and Intercity Conference, Ohio DOT Annual Transit, Ohio Annual Planning Conference, Ohio Engineering Conference, Indiana INCOST Annual Meeting, Indiana North/South meetings, CASTA 2018 Conference, Missouri Public Transit Association, Tri-State Transit Conference (Maine, Vermont, New Hampshire), and more.

DOT Staff Training

RLS is often called in by state DOTs to provide training to DOT staff on new regulations and topics, such as drug and alcohol regulation updates, transit asset management, Title VI, and others. In addition, RLS may also be asked to update state manuals, application materials, and guidelines for FTA programs to reflect new or updated guidance and to provide staff training on these materials.

Dispatch and Scheduling

RLS staff provide dispatch and scheduling technical assistance and training to local transit systems in a number of ways. First, RLS has been tasked with assessing and evaluating a transit system’s overall dispatch and scheduling process from call intake to trip assignments to identify and document issues and make recommendations. RLS staff experienced in transit operations quietly observe dispatchers/schedulers on different days and different times of the day, documenting the entire dispatch/scheduling process. RLS then conducts one-on-one interviews with transit system management and all staff that are in some way connected with the dispatch/scheduling function (includes dispatchers/schedulers and their supervisors, drivers, etc.). RLS then documents all findings in a written report, together with recommendations for improvement. Recommendations can include policy/procedure changes, automation, additional training, and/or increased staffing, among others. Sometimes RLS may recommend that staff conduct an on-site observation at another transit system to observe how that system approaches dispatching and scheduling. The second way RLS assists with the area of dispatch/scheduling is in identifying and facilitating training opportunities, which may be a combination of on-line and on-site training.

Driver/Operations Training

RLS’ staff of professional trainers offer driver and operations training on numerous topic areas, including but not limited to, passenger assistance (including, but not limited to passenger sensitivity, dealing with different populations, and wheelchair lift operations and securement), emergency evacuation, dealing with difficult people, defensive driving, distracted driving, fatigue and sleep apnea awareness, operations safety, passenger safety, and crime and emergency management courses. Training may consist of a detailed agenda/syllabus, a combined lecture and PowerPoint presentation, demonstration or practicum, case studies and role plays, reviews and knowledge tests, and course/trainer evaluations. Training is provided on-site, via webinar, and on-line, as appropriate.

eLearning Development

RLS works with National, State, and local transit agencies to develop eLearning courses to give clients more flexibility with their training schedules and allow lessons to become more personalized to the individual trainee, as well as to be cost effective. While some areas require in-person training, such as lift operations and securement, there are still a wide variety of areas that are appropriate for eLearning. Some examples of eLearning topics include drug and alcohol training to meet the FTA requirement of 60 minutes of annual training, originally developed for Oregon DOT but now hosted by National RTAP; Dealing with Difficult People, Stress & Fatigue, and Safety & Security for the Indiana DOT; and Reaching Agreement Among Coordination Partners for the Community Transportation Association of America (CTAA) to assist mobility managers in being more effective in facilitating meetings among community partners and negotiating differences that arise, with a goal of improving transportation options for community members.

Facility Planning

RLS provides facility planning and design assistance to small urban and rural transit systems that may be purchasing, building, or rehabbing an existing facility. This assistance includes the use of standard templates and documents for the planning, designing, and building of transit facilities as well as guidelines for evaluating cost proposals, a Documented Categorical Exclusion (DCE) checklist, and a Request for Qualifications (RFQ) for procuring Architectural and Engineering Services.

Policy and Procedures Development Training

RLS’ seeks to contribute to the betterment of its clients’ communities. As such, RLS devotes itself to ensuring its clients develop policies and procedures that not only comply with FTA regulations but improve a client’s effectiveness and efficiency. Such policies and procedures also help meet and protect the needs and rights of the community. RLS assists in the development of policies and procedures by reviewing the clients’ current practices; determining public opinion, demographics, and need; documenting their findings and suggestions; creating potential action plans; and providing support through the development process. RLS maintains a library of model policies and procedures as well that can be provided to its clients upon request.

Roadeo Planning and Setup

Annual Roadeos provide local transit system drivers the opportunity to compete and show off their driving skills. Roadeos are useful in not only recognizing driver strengths, but also in promoting the importance of day-to-day public service, safety, and professionalism. Typically a daylong event, Roadeos combine a driving skills demonstration, written test, safety inspection, and passenger assistance techniques to assess a driver’s overall abilities. All the activities are designed to reflect the skills and duties performed by transit drivers in their daily work routines. Most Roadeos provide each participant with a participation certificate and t-shirt, while top finishers (established by the local transit system) and their employers are recognized with some type of award or trophy. Winners of the local Roadeo may also have the opportunity to participate in the annual National Transportation Roadeo sponsored by the Community Transportation Association of America (CTAA).

As part of its Rural Transit Assistance Program (RTAP) administration and operations services, RLS plans, coordinates, and implements Transit Roadeos for state and local DOTs and transit associations.

RTAP Program Management

State Rural Transit Assistance Programs (RTAP) are the counterpart to National RTAP. The mission of National RTAP is to “make grants and contracts for transportation research, technical assistance, training, and related services in rural areas” (US Code 49 Section 5311). Program objectives include promoting delivery of transportation services, offering technical assistance and training, disseminating training and technical assistance materials, providing peer-to-peer networks and connections, coordinating public, private, specialized and human service transportation, and maintaining the Rural National Transit Database. These objectives are passed down to each state RTAP program, where each state has the ability to implement the program in a way that best meets the state’s and its subrecipients’ needs. Some states choose to administer and operate their RTAP program directly with DOT staff. Others choose to competitively contract out the total RTAP administration and operation to a third party. Still others choose to administer a portion of the RTAP services, while contracting out for the remainder of the service. It is for those states in the second and third categories, that RLS provides assistance. For over thirty years, RLS has provided all or a portion of RTAP services on behalf of state DOTS, including overseeing/providing the state’s RTAP training and scholarship programs, providing technical assistance, producing an RTAP newsletter, and developing and maintaining a program website with information and resources regarding available services. For some states, they have also included assistance with drug and alcohol compliance, transit asset management, compliance review services, and more. RLS currently provides RTAP-related services to eight state DOTs.

Safety and Security/Safety Management System (SMS)

While final decisions are made on FTA SMS requirements, RLS continues to assess the unique operating environment and opportunities of several transit systems and communities and develop practical, implementable solutions to address safety and security concerns, including but not limited to the conduct of safety and security assessments, checklists, and reviews

Speaking Engagements

RLS’ professional staff are routinely asked to participate in National, State, and local meetings, conferences, trainings, etc. across the country to address a diverse range of topics, including but not limited to the FTA drug and alcohol program, financial management, cost allocation, transit asset management, Title VI compliance, coordination, performance indicators, and RTAP management.

Trainings

RLS staff members are highly qualified and experienced trainers in numerous state and local topic areas, from management survival skills (planning goals and objectives, administration and program budgets, working with a board of directors, effective communication, hiring, responsibility delegation, and policy development) to driver conduct (handling disruptive passengers, helping passengers with disabilities, and general passenger relations). RLS trainers teach in a variety of formats, such as the traditional classroom setting to interactive workshops. RLS training materials include informational brochures, presentations, handbooks, and interactive activities.

Transit Management

Periodically RLS will be asked to provide either interim and/or on-going transit management services, provide “coaching” services to a new manager, or assist a local transit system with its hiring search. The requests may come from a state DOT on behalf of a local transit system or directly from the transit system and may come as the result of an illness, an unanticipated retirement or resignation, audit and compliance issues, etc. In any of these cases, RLS has provided these services anywhere from one month to two years, depending on the situation. In most cases, RLS performs these services on site, but in the case of coaching or hiring searches, this assistance could be provided, in part, remotely. In all cases, RLS assesses the system/service, develops an action plan with deliverables and associated deadlines, and regularly reports progress as well as any issues identified and addressed.

On-call Assistance

Often state DOTs and local transit systems want to be prepared for any unanticipated needs for professional and specialized assistance as the needs arise, but do not want to delay the provision of the services by conducting the procurement after the issue/need is identified. In these circumstances, an on-call assistance procurement is conducted before the issue/need is identified, but examples of the types of services needed are described but left “open ended” to cover other topics that could arise during the contract period. RLS has assisted many States and local communities in this way, providing training and technical assistance essentially “on demand” in such areas as transit asset management, financial management, audit services, procurement, preparation for CORTAP (State Management) Reviews and Triennial Reviews, and more.

Task Orders

Similar to on-call assistance, State DOTs and local transit systems use task order contracts to provide a variety of services, some anticipated and others not, whereby their staffs either are insufficient or do not possess the necessary skills to address the topic. In the case of a task order contract, typically the state or transit system knows in advance many of the areas in which they will require assistance, and as soon as the contract is executed, issues a “task order” for the project. As the contract period progresses and other needs arise, additional task orders are issued. RLS has provided task order assistance for over 30 years and has, over time, perfected the process which has been replicated across the country.

Staff Expertise

Robbie L. Sarles

Robbie L. Sarles President Ms. Robbie Sarles, President, and founder of RLS & Associates, Inc., has worked over 37 years in the transit industry in progressively responsible positions, in both public and private sectors. Since founding RLS in 1987 in Dayton, Ohio, she...

Pam Bentley

Pam Bentley Accounts Receivable Coordinator Ms. Pam Bentley is RLS' Accounts Receivable Coordinator for all client invoices. She is responsible for assembling all documentation to support client invoices generated by RLS' accounting system, coordinating as necessary...

Ray Boylston

Mr. Ray Boylston Senior Associate Mr. Ray Boylston works out of the RLS Raleigh, North Carolina office. He has over 30 years of experience in transit planning, management, operations, and finance at the state, county, and municipal levels, in both the public and...

Laura Brown

Laura Brown Senior Associate Ms. Laura Brown works in Sumter, South Carolina and is the Senior Associate for RLS’ coordination and planning projects. Ms. Brown has a diverse background of transit planning and financial management and analysis experience as well as a...

Richard (Rich) Garrity

Richard (Rich) Garrity Senior Associate Mr. Rich Garrity is located in the RLS Wilmington, North Carolina office. He has over 40 years of experience in transit and paratransit planning, operations and management evaluation, coordinated transportation services, policy...

Charles Glover

Charles Glover Senior Associate Mr. Charles Glover works out of the RLS Raleigh, North Carolina office and has over 39 years of public transportation experience, with extensive expertise in the planning and development of coordinated transportation services and...

Sean Oswald

Sean Oswald Senior Associate Mr. Sean Oswald is located in the Dayton Headquarters. He joined RLS in 2011, bringing over five years of GIS analysis, management, and training experience. Building on that experience, Mr. Oswald is now Project Manager for all RLS drug...

Julie Schafer

Julie Schafer Senior Associate Ms. Julie Schafer is located in the Dayton Headquarters. A former Section 5311 transit manager of a seven-county public transit system in rural Indiana, she has over 18 years of experience, 15 years of that in transit system operations...

Richard (Rich) Schultze

Richard (Rich) Schultze Senior Associate Mr. Rich Schultze is located in the Dayton Headquarters. He has over 42 years of experience in a range of passenger transportation modes and settings, including route and service planning for the Washington Metropolitan Area...

Kelly Shawn

Kelly Shawn Senior Associate Mr. Kelly Shawn is located in the RLS Alexandria, Virginia office. With over 31 years in the transit industry, Mr. Shawn is an experienced trainer, facilitator, and project manager with extensive expertise in small urban, rural, and tribal...

Linda De Herrera

Linda De Herrera Senior Consultant Ms. Linda De Herrera has over 38 years of experience in the transit industry and is located in the RLS Colorado office. She is the Lead Senior Consultant for RLS’ Precision Compliance Inc. (PCI) subsidiary. Ms. De Herrera assists...

Christy Campoll

Christy Campoll Associate Ms. Christy Campoll is located in the RLS Indianapolis, Indiana office. As a former transit manager and transportation vice president, Ms. Campoll managed a successful rural, demand response transit system in central Indiana. This $1.5...

Alexander (Alex) Ewers

Alexander (Alex) Ewers Associate Mr. Alex Ewers is an RLS Associate assigned as an on-site Grants Management Technician for the Ohio Department of Transportation (ODOT) at the ODOT Headquarters in Columbus, Ohio. Mr. Ewers is a strong communicator and collaborator...

Zachary (Zach) Kincade

Zachary (Zach) KincadeOffice Manager/GIS SpecialistMr. Zach Kincade is the Dayton Headquarters Office Manager, as well as over eleven years of experience as a project manager and Lead Analyst for RLS data collection and survey analysis projects. He also provides...

Alex Schultze

Alex Schultze Associate Mr. Alex Schultze is located in the Dayton Headquarters and has over nine years of experience in map development using ArcGIS and survey data entry having provided technical support to several RLS projects. He has also become proficient with...

Lucy Sherman

Lucy Sherman Associate Ms. Lucy Sherman is located in the Dayton Headquarters. She provides support for RLS’ survey and data collection projects and is a Lead Drug and Alcohol Reviewer. She is also a certified instructor for Passenger Assistance Techniques, Defensive...

Sara Trafton

Sara Trafton Associate Ms. Sara Trafton is located in the Dayton Headquarters. She is an experienced transit and project manager with over 15 years of public transportation experience, and a background in strategic planning, executive management, grant development and...

Victoria (Vicky) Warner

Victoria (Vicky) WarnerAssociate/RTAP ManagerMs. Vicky Warner is located in the RLS Columbus, Indiana Office where she is responsible for office administration and daily operations. She is an experienced transit manager and trainer, with over 24 years of transit...

Megan Gatterdam

Megan GatterdamAssociate/RTAP CoordinatorMs. Megan Gatterdam has over 10 years of experience in the transit industry and is the Indiana RTAP Coordinator in the RLS Columbus, IN office. She is a Lead Trainer and coordinates the annual RTAP Roadeo driver competition....

Rosamary Amiet

Rosamary Amiet Quality Assurance Editor Ms. Rosamary Amiet is a remote employee located near Columbus, Ohio who provides editing and quality assurance for RLS’ products and proposals. She retired in 2004 from the Ohio Department of Transportation (ODOT) with over 31...

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