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.
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!
One agency decided to conduct a “safety blitz” to determine whether mirrors were being set correctly and discovered, much to their surprise, that a growing number of operators were leaving the yard in a mad rush to avoid being late — deciding to adjust their mirrors at their first available opportunity. What they learned was that many of these operators left the yard with every intention of setting their mirrors correctly. However, once these operators began servicing their routes — the task appeared to "slip their minds."
In most organizations, 80% to 95% of all bus operators are found to be safe, reliable and courteous, but often, they don’t know it because nobody tells them. If safe bus operation represents a core value for your property, what are you leaders doing to encourage and reinforce the desired behaviors among your bus operators?
Those of you who take a few minutes each month to follow my blogs, or have attended one of my past presentations at transit events, first let me thank you. These blogs and presentations, in combination, have been promoting surface transit standards in a form of a standardized curriculum for over 10 years now. I ask you, are we not long overdue in getting transit specific standards a done deal? By the time of this posting, I would have again stood before a group of transit professionals at a recently attended transit function in Orlando, Fla., speaking on this exact topic.
A final day should mean exactly that, the end — no more — learning opportunities that had been available no longer exist. The clock has run out. Hopefully, there is a final day designated for trainees at your agency, a time where you draw the line and make a decision, because, as we all know, not everyone can operate a bus. For the trainee, the final day is the most pressure-packed day they will spend on the training bus. Any student entering their final day should be well-prepared and fully aware of what they are faced with, as all of the requirements should have been clearly covered as part of their first day orientation. Remember, no surprises!