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.
Years ago, I was with Louie Maiello when someone walked over and asked him for some advice: “We’re having problems with people remembering to secure the bus before they leave their seat. Do you have any advice? How can we get them to remember?” Without missing a beat, Louie said “PIN it.” The advice seeker happened to be a veteran mechanic, so he understood and walked away to resume his work. I stood there for a while scratching my head. Pin it?
Diagnose, Prescribe & Follow-Up, are the usual doctor’s actions that are utilized when visiting the doctor’s office for whatever is ailing us. This formula should also apply within your training department with regard to the ailment of Bus Collisions.
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?"
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