As the winter months arrive, ridership is up for many transit properties across the country, with some reporting as much as a 5 percent to 8 percent spike. Unfortunately, this increase can also come with a spike in collisions.
When hiring new bus operators in a short period of time to satisfy the latest service requirements, let's make sure you are not overlooking some of the things that you normally would not have in the training and qualifying process of a new hire. If ever there was a time to ensure that your students are performing to your satisfaction, it is now. If you are simply looking at satisfying the hiring requirement numbers as quickly as possible, be warned: it will come back to burn you in the form of a collision statistic.
This training and qualification process is not about making friends or having to worry about hurting someone's feelings. This is one of the few jobs where an employee must be 100 percent accurate in every decision made during a day's work. Anything less can cost someone's life. Let's look at a few ways to make sure you are prepared for the rush of new hires, and that they are prepared to proceed to passenger service as equipped as possible.
Your most common types of collisions are out there waiting to happen to that new probationary operator. If you have one, you can expose your student to this exact type of collision on a driver training simulator before they experience it on the live bus. Naturally, it is the responsibility of you and every other instructor to know what your most popular type of collision is at your agency. Without all, and I repeat all, of the instructional staff knowing what that collision is, there can be no effective standardized corrective action applications to administer.
Without standardized corrections in place, your situation will remain the same then eventually get worse. Do you have a specific corrective action application in place for every type of collision, whether it is with a vehicle, fixed object or pedestrian, that may occur at your property? It should be a short but concise 'training episode' to be administered in the simulator that will reveal to the student the:
Cause - The incorrect actions taken by the student which led to the incident.
Corrective Action Application - The correct way of doing it to minimize a future occurrence.
Successful Application - Allowing them to apply the corrective action without incident.
Some of the benefits of applying simple but concise corrective action applications to every type of collision/knockdown that your agency is experiencing will reduce your overall collision numbers and deliver a well-trained and well-prepared student to passenger service.
Start them right and plant the seed of good habits!
Nowadays, there’s an app for everything. Very few of those apps can turn an everyday transit rider into a hero who summons help for a person in distress. A routine ride on your transit system can be suddenly disrupted if you witness an assault, a crime in progress or a medical emergency. That is why apps designed for public safety must take all imaginable scenarios into consideration.
As we all have experienced, chatter regarding topics other than performance-based basic skill development, such as current events, sports or one’s families, will develop onboard and can break the tension that candidates are experiencing in attempting to do their best. This tension breaker may do good for them, but this should occur during non-development drive time.
Thinking of the situation in terms of “who should yield” will lead operators to a less aggressive mindset. Once we get our operators to think in terms of “who should yield,” the logical follow up question to ask is “will they yield?” Once operators start looking at situations with a “yield” attitude, it becomes easier to recognize situations, which may result in preventable crashes.
Dr. Donald Kirkpatrick long ago defined four levels of evaluation to determine the effectiveness of any training program. It is common for the bulk of effort being put forth by any training department to focus on Level 1 and Level 2. This typically manifests as the time we spend planning for and executing the prescribed training activities that form our learning programs. Many organizations are now finding that they have the most potential for achieving performance improvements by focusing more energy and resources toward Level 3 activities, such as coaching.
When official-plated transit authority vehicles were scarce and basically reserved for those in upper management to go about their daily business to and from meetings, etc..., road control would be the responsibility of the “fixed-post foot dispatcher.” Not all of these positions have been eliminated, but I wonder if any readers remember the stability and sense of control that was present while the foot dispatcher was on post?