Goodnight, Irene — Irene, Goodnight!
I sincerely hope that any inconveniences suffered by those exposed to Irene were not unbearable and injuries, if any, were minimal. Condolences are in order to those who may have lost a friend or family member. I would like to commend those transit agencies that worked with their respective elected officials in making the decision to keep their bus and rail equipment "in the house." Although a complete shutdown of service may have been a first for some agencies, I'm sure their actions may have prevented even more injuries from occurring.
On another note, 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.
I will have the distinct honor of conducting a presentation at BusCon 2011 at the Navy Pier in Chicago, Sept. 12 to 14. My 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.
My presentation focuses on standardizing curriculum with five proven specific criteria listed below to increase an agency's efficiency.
- Standardized Criterion-Based Curriculum-To predict the safety performance of student bus operators after training.
- Supplemental "Training Tool" Driving Simulator - To expose the student in a controlled environment where neither the public nor equipment is at risk.
- An Effective Train the Trainer Program - To ensure a smooth transfer from the training bus instructor to the depot "route familiarization" operator.
- Corrective Action/Refresher Solutions - Fixing the problem and attacking known risks.
- Post-Training Programs- Ensuring a "Hire to Retire" philosophy.
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 BusCon 2011, please stop by to say hello and introduce yourself as a reader of this blog and consider remaining for the presentation.
At your agency, what does your "ingredient" list contain? What can you add to my "Five?"
In case you missed it...
Read our METRO blog, "OCTA CEO: Getting America back to work," here.
At the Denton County (Texas) Transportation Authority (DCTA), we’re constantly looking for unique ways to engage with passengers, generate brand awareness and increase ridership. This year with Valentine’s Day being on a Saturday, we saw a great opportunity to launch a campaign in which passengers could ride DCTA’s A-train commuter rail and Connect Bus for free on Valentine’s Day all day by saying “Be Mine” to the agency’s rail and bus operators. With low-trending ridership in February, we needed to find a way to increase ridership and brand awareness within Denton County and surrounding cities. Launching the Valentine’s Day promotion definitely would help us achieve this.
Seeing a canine passenger on mass transit is not uncommon, but the reasons why a dog might catch the train or hop a bus are varied (remember Eclipse, the Seattle Lab mix that uses the bus, often on her own, to get to the dog park?). Most public transit pooches are working —as K-9 officers or service animals. In the Philadelphia region, other animals — in approved carriers only—are permitted to ride the Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority’s buses, trains and trolleys. However, a new pilot program underway by SEPTA allows registered therapy dogs volunteering at two Philadelphia hospitals to use two designated bus routes to travel to their sites.
To be sure, there is no substitute for offering high-quality bus or rail transit service, but many transit agencies skimp when it comes to marketing, outreach, and education and, as a result, the public often has no idea how good the service may actually be. Buses also have an image problem in many communities, which proper marketing could help address. Witness the huge sums spent by automakers in crafting the image of their automobiles.
The Uber website proudly states that, “Uber is evolving the way the world moves. By seamlessly connecting riders to drivers through our apps, we make cities more accessible, opening up more possibilities for riders and more business for drivers. From our founding in 2009 to our launches in over 200 cities today, Uber's rapidly expanding global presence continues to bring people and their cities closer.” Such hype is common on corporate websites, but when the braggadocio is backed up by an article in the Wall Street Journal that discloses a valuation of $41 billion their ambitious words take on relevance.
As the world changes with the rapid advancement of connected devices and technologies, so must the transportation industry. In a business area where change is sluggish, DOTs across the country must adapt quickly to the evolving technologies that are going to impact their operations and budget. There are at least three technologies that will have immense impact over the next two decades on how we travel and how state transportation departments react to provide mobility — connectedness, big data and automation.