Raising the bar with bus simulation training

Posted on May 6, 2011 by Louie Maiello - Also by this author

Readers most likely are not familiar with my past work with driver training simulation, so I want to devote this month's space to a brief description of what I discovered working with this technology and what it enabled me to do within the training department I was affiliated with.

Simulation is a training episode — it isnot a reality and it is never a perfect replication. It enables you to selectively emphasize what is important. The purpose of simulation training is to evaluate the judgment of the operator. Judgment is the mind's ability to come up with the correct action to stave off disaster. Judgment cannot be taught, only evaluated. Will the trainee make a correct judgment to stave off disaster? Knowing how to blend supplemental simulator training into an existing training curriculum will lead to favorable results and positive benefits to a training program. Attempting to build a curriculum around the simulator can be a costly and unfavorable venture.

The simulator enhances training by giving the student the opportunity to repeat a particular skill set until mastery sets in. The result is a better-trained operator better prepared to face actual high-risk driving situations as well as identify and avoid many potential collisions.

The simulator also enhances the instructor's capabilities. It exposes training inconsistencies among the trainers. Uniting instructors as one voice in the administration of a standardized curriculum ensures that the best students rise to the top. It also identifies those who must seek other types of employment. Utilized properly in the hands of a knowledgeable, enthusiastic and creative instructor, benefits will come in the form of collision reductions, lower claims, a decrease in the student washout rate and an increase in the safest students qualifying for operations.

Three reasons for not recognizing the benefits that should be achieved with simulation training include a lack of:

  • Upper management buy-in
  • Instructor accountability
  • Pilot programs


Ensure that there is a buy-in from upper management, and have a sound plan to have a smooth and thorough transfer of simulator knowledge and application theory from the instructor/upper managerial ranks when personnel changes occur. This is as important to have in place as the simulator itself, to ensure that the simulator does not become idle and that it produces benefits for the training program. The simulator should continue in the role it was purchased for, despite departmental personnel changes.

Case Studies

When looking at those transit agencies that do supplement their curriculum with simulation training, their positive results stand on their own with regard to a reduction in washout rates, right- and left-side collisions, pedestrian contact and collisions overall.


Probably the most enhancing element of simulation training is allowing a student to see his or her results when not applying the best corrective measure in avoiding a particular situation, then allowing the student a chance to remedy the problem in a low-risk simulated environment until the solution has been demonstrated. Remember, reality sets in when a student can pause and reflect on what was not done correctly and what will have to be done differently in the future to avoid a possible reoccurrence, or even a more serious involvement.

In case you missed it...

Read our METRO blog, "Transit provides heightened point of view" here.


View comments or post a comment on this story. (4 Comments)

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