It's hard to believe that another year is upon us. I have already begun to plot out this year's transit events for sharing information associated with both bus operator and bus simulator training.
I have taken much pleasure during my 33 years in transit to see the unselfish sharing among transit training professionals. There are many opportunities each year to be part of this information sharing/gathering. You can start by researching the various industry conferences, workshops, etc. — a couple of great ones are listed below — and attending them. Many times, some suggestion or training strategy offered by one person in attendance is just the answer for someone who is trying to solve the same problem.
During the course of my presentations to large groups, I have come to believe that they are some of the most exciting and inspiring events for transferring critical information regarding bus operator training and safety. Large group presentations are an excellent time to unveil new training concepts and strategies. There is a distinct feel and energy to the room that cannot be duplicated in any other setting.
This year, I have the distinct honor of making presentations at two of the most prestigious transit events in the country — the National Transit Institute's Transit Trainers' Workshop in April, and the American Public Transportation Association Bus and Paratransit Conference in May.
My NTI presentation will outline how to infuse new operators with a solid core curriculum in under 13 hours, at a time when some agencies might be devoting 40-plus hours to this training.
This presentation defines a training process that starts — and stays — on the bus until students are able to demonstrate operational proficiency. The session concludes by examining the sudden rise in left side bus/pedestrian incidents and describes how proper training remains our best defense against this alarming trend. A highlight of these large group presentations is the encouragement of audience members to present their safety concerns.
The APTA presentation focuses on standardizing curriculum with specific criteria to increase your agency's efficiency. The lack of a standardized curriculum and a set time limit makes it impossible to determine whether the identical protocols and techniques being taught to all students and whether those students are learning the material.
If you are considering attending a conference or a workshop this year and interested in getting involved in the discussion on the above topics, please consider attending:
"Add Meaning to the Classroom - Begin on the Training Bus"
National Transit Institute - TTT Workshop
April 10-12, 2011 - Tampa, Fla.
"Increase Effectiveness with a Criterion-Based, Standardized Curriculum"
APTA - Bus & Paratransit Conference,
May 22 - 25, 2011 - Memphis
In case you missed it...
Read our latest METRO editor blog on the quiet car revolution here.
Bus operators are not blindfolded. Operators are trained and required to identify potential hazards, based on their forward planning skills. With regard to left turns, these so called “blind spots” are really areas behind the left A-pillar/mirror that are “temporarily” obstructed to the operator, not blind to the operator. The key here is for the operators to utilize their observation and forward planning skills to minimize the time that their vision is temporarily obstructed. The pedestrian that regrettably becomes a victim of bus contact should be in the clear view of the operator long before arriving at the location where the contact occurred. Pedestrians are not “coming out of nowhere!"
The world is a very busy place. We rely on our eyes to provide us with information that will keep us from harm as we operate our vehicles. It is difficult to over-emphasize the importance of effective scanning in order to recognize potential hazards early enough so appropriate action can be taken to avoid conflict. As a result, we spend a lot of time advising operators how often they should scan their mirrors, where to look for hazards, and how to bring objects into view that may be temporarily obstructed, and so on.
Today I’d like to mention a few effective policies that were routinely utilized in the past, which were (and for the few agencies that still practice them) very effective in producing safe bus operators, including covering your right, terminal checks and company vehicles.
Operating a fixed-route bus in today’s distracted world requires high levels of focus and concentration. The brain must continually sift through loads of information during bus operation to determine what things can be ignored and what things pose a potential threat to our safety and well-being. Once the brain detects a potential hazard or threat, a specific response must occur to keep us from harm’s way. When our brains are forced to sustain this level of effort for long periods of time a great deal of energy is required.
It’s no secret that I am a firm believer in bus simulator training. I enjoyed the benefits of utilizing simulators as a supplemental training tool during my days at New York City Transit. The simulators helped us produce outstanding results by targeting specific outcomes. If your simulator training is not producing what you expected it to deliver, the answer is plain and simple: something is wrong!