Nothing can be more frustrating for new Bus Operator Instructors than seeing students, not long after qualifying and moving forward to Depot Route Training, move away from the correct skill applications they were taught on the training bus, to what someone else may be telling them. In many cases that someone else is the Route Bus Operator they are assigned to, who often confront students with a "this is the real world, not the training bus" mentality. Who student operators are assigned to once they leave their instructor is an important piece of the training process.
Although who the bus operators' students are assigned to for Route Training, in most cases, may not be actual "Trainers," they should be an extension of the Training Center, continuing the training philosophy that was given to the student and not allowing their own personal styles to get in the way. In time, new students will develop their own style along with the needed confidence. If they are taught correctly from day one, chances are that their styles will not deviate greatly from their initial training experience.
To keep a positive consistent flow from training bus to Route Training, here are a few guidelines:
- How are your Route Trainers chosen? Are they simply friends or someone you may have driven with? Although friends, these types may not be someone you would want your child to be taught by during the break-in process.
- Do you have standards such as:
- Minimum amount of years behind the wheel
- Collision/Incident free for a specific amount of time
- Free from customer complaints and disciplinary action
- Good attendance etc...
- Ask yourself, "would I put my child with this operator?"
- Are there incentives for an operator to become a Route Trainer aside from the additional hourly bonus money paid at some Transit properties? Such as:
- Recognition photo in the depot
- Shoulder patch
- How up to date are the Route Trainers on the latest training applications being taught? Route instructors are sometimes faced with students who may have been taught something that was not taught during their training years ago. Here is where having a class for Route Trainers comes into play. Returning to the Training Center for a class on current training applications will eliminate any confusion once the student is assigned to them for Route Training. They should get familiarized with the same tasking/evaluation forms that the student was given on their first day of employment.
- Finally, for tracking purposes and to ensure that the student is doing most of the daily driving (at least six hours per day) and not the Depot Route Trainer, the student should be equipped with a "Record of Student" card during Depot Route Training. The student should have the Depot Route Trainer(s) sign each day and log the amount of time the student spends behind the wheel.
I hope some of these ideas can help.
Years ago, I was with Louie Maiello when someone walked over and asked him for some advice: “We’re having problems with people remembering to secure the bus before they leave their seat. Do you have any advice? How can we get them to remember?” Without missing a beat, Louie said “PIN it.” The advice seeker happened to be a veteran mechanic, so he understood and walked away to resume his work. I stood there for a while scratching my head. Pin it?
Diagnose, Prescribe & Follow-Up, are the usual doctor’s actions that are utilized when visiting the doctor’s office for whatever is ailing us. This formula should also apply within your training department with regard to the ailment of Bus Collisions.
If we encourage our operators to treat operating a bus as a shift-long Zen moment, we may be able to reduce preventable crashes by a significant amount. The “Zen Operator,” who drives precisely at all times, is also less stressed. The Zen Operator flows through difficult, tight situations easily and their body language and vibe give passengers a sense of confidence. The operator whose passengers have a white-knuckle death grip on the back of the seat in front of them is not practicing “Zen Bus Operation.”
Ah, summer. Pool parties, barbecues, the smell of honeysuckle and the sight of lightning bugs. Or — a rise in crime, agitated riders seeking air conditioning, heat stroke, a new fiscal year, and the necessary, but unpopular, fare increases. However you view the summer months, with a direct correlation between high temperatures and increased crime, it's vital for transit leaders to be asking themselves, "Have we done everything possible to keep our people safe?"
The RMS occurred last month in Albany, N.Y. and it was a truly remarkable learning experience for those in attendance. The RMS serves as a one-of-a-kind event that brings together transit risk management professionals from all across the country to focus on key topics related to safety, risk management, planning and prevention.