During these tough economic times there may be a friend or loved one you know who is waiting to be called to begin a career in transit, perhaps as a bus operator. To make the best of that opportunity, I will provide some information to share with them.
What actually does the job involve?
Bus operators, under general supervision:
- Operate a transit bus transporting passengers in accordance with the rules and regulations of the transit agency.
- Ensure proper payment of fares, and at some transit properties, issue and collect transfers.
- Make visual inspections of buses.
- Write reports concerning revenues, accidents, faulty equipment and unusual occurrences.
- Work in various weather conditions.
- Communicate with customers.
- Attempt to maintain a schedule.
Some of the requirements will pertain to the following items.
- Driver's License: If a serious moving violation, license suspension, or an accident record is present, it may result in a disqualification.
- Medical: Medical guidelines have been established for the position of Bus Operator. An examination will be administered to determine whether one can perform the essential functions of the position of bus operator.
- Drug Screening: Passing a drug screening to be appointed.
- Residency: Some transit agencies have a residency requirement.
- English Language: Being able to understand and be understood in English.
- Background Check: Criminal and driving records, past employment, and education.
* NEVER misrepresent any information that is requested. If misrepresentations are discovered, one will be dismissed - it is that simple.
Driving experience levels of a candidate:
Training candidates with experience limited to only operating an automobile come with basic driving skills. They must build on this level of driving and adapt several new skills to accommodate the larger vehicle, along with the addition of transporting passengers/customers.
Training candidates with experience operating large vehicles should imply that there already is an understanding of the clearance allowances that must be made with a larger vehicle in turning and overall road presence, etc., but in most cases, a deprogramming process is necessary to eliminate bad habits and educate them to realize that they must now operate the transit agency's vehicle according to the standards of the training department. Many times it is those with prior experience who cannot lose those bad habits during the training window and must be let go. However, those who do adapt will become even better.
Candidates who assume that they will automatically advance beyond the training bus because of past experience might make a huge mistake.
As most instructors will admit, (at least those I have been associated with) the final question they asked themselves before making the call on a student is "Will I feel comfortable having a member of my family on this student's bus?" The instructor will be looking to see if adjustments have been made that now enable the student to operate the bus in passenger service according to the standards of the training department.
Things to consider:
- Bus Operations is not for everyone. This is a fact. Once they begin training they may realize that this type of employment is not for them. There is no reson to be ashamed or fearful. They should simply let their decision be known and resign rather than being terminated.
- Equip themselves with a reliable watch. Since their daily activity will revolve around a schedule, a reliable watch is an important and required tool.
- Rest. Adequate sleep is an absolute must.
- Punctuality. Arrive at least 20 minutes to 30 minutes before the scheduled report time. Reporting late can result in being disciplined and sent home without pay.
- Training bus behavior. Be observant, take notes, ask questions and listen to the instructor.
I hope this information helps someone.
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!