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!
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.