While some transit agencies are cutting back or even eliminating service to save money, why not begin looking at the bottom line with student operators, during and at the completion of their behind-the-wheel training. Identifying poor performers during training and separating them prior to graduation can contribute greatly to overall safety improvements for the training department and, reduce claims. Releasing students at the completion of an unsatisfactory driver training performance will ensure that they will not be part of an agency's collision statistics.
Are transit agencies simply wasting dollars by having student operators sit in a classroom at the beginning of their training, rather than concentrating on learning the driving skills first on the training bus? If the trainee is unable to perform satisfactorily in the driving skills portion, information given in a classroom early in the training program will become meaningless. It's at this time they must be released from the training program.
Identifying those with driving skills first can increase the number of qualifying students who will benefit from uninterrupted daily driving thereby, saving training dollars. By leaving the classroom portion of training until after washing out those who failed the driving skills portion, you can ensure that every possible opportunity is given to the student to succeed. The uninterrupted daily driving will quickly present a picture to the instructor and the student as to who may or may not advance beyond the behind-the-wheel stage of training.
After orientation day paperwork, get rolling on the training bus and remain there until you have identified students who have qualified in the basic skill driving portion, as well as those who have exhausted the available amount of training and must resign for failing to qualify. Any instruction given in the classroom before determining if they can pass the driving portion will mean nothing to those who do not satisfactorily demonstrate the driving skills first.
Once the washout has occurred, classroom training can begin. The class will be meaningful and consist of those having one thing in common; they have all passed the driving portion. If you can't drive, you won't have to worry about being around for any classroom activities. Fewer supplies and resources will be needed, and a little savings here and there can add up. At the same time, only those who have first demonstrated the ability to drive are the ones advancing into depot line/route training and, eventually, to driving on their own.
The per-student training cost is wasted if every opportunity is not given to complete training successfully, or by the failure of the training department in not identifying, early on in training, those students who should never advance to passenger service.
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.
I recently attended, and had the opportunity to be part of a panel of speakers, at the NYC MTA Bus Safety Symposium. A variety of topics were discussed regarding bus and pedestrian safety issues. What was obvious is we all have a common goal to provide the safest transit systems possible, in spite of the possibility of increasing bus/pedestrian and bus/cyclist collisions.
I have had it with the never-ending meeting of the minds on the predominant causes of left-turn bus-pedestrian collisions. This whole issue is getting obscured with presentations that slice and dice every possible cause of these incidents into a collection of symbols, numbers and formulas. Please stop.