Simulator training within the 'transit industry' is unique in its application as an affordable and necessary option. Those of you who feel that teaching bus operator basic skills on a simulator cannot be done are missing the boat! You are short-changing yourself and your operators. I firmly believe that basic skill development is its primary function and the most effective way to utilize your simulator when dealing with new hires. Allow me to list a few of the basic skills that, when taught early on, will become the foundation of a knowledgeable and attentive operator:
- bus stop approach
- bus stop departure
- right turns
- left turns
- intersection approach, proceeding through and exiting
- ADA requirements and applications
- 'covering' the right
- 'covering' the brake
- proper front and side clearances
- lane placement
- highway entry and exit
- forward planning
- pivot point comprehension
- proper set up and utilization of mirrors
- proper steering
- directional use
- operating within the depot (drillers/shifters)
As you can see, there are many basic skills to be taught and many more I can list, but you get the idea. These are exactly the things that should be taught on the simulator, supplementing 'live' training on the bus. The one important difference is the trainee can make mistakes at no cost and no loss of life. Mastering these formulas will minimize collisions. Likewise, an instructor who walks away from the simulator and allows the trainee to simply drive with no instructor /student management is useless. You are encouraging bad driving behavior. You may as well list your simulator on eBay!
If you are attending the APTA Expo and either have a driving simulator (from any manufacturer) or are considering purchasing one, I encourage you to stop by FAAC booth #5621. Be part of the demos and learning experience. Observe what is being done in the simulator via the exterior floor monitor and hear the dialogue between instructor/student as I will be wired for sound. Witness firsthand the meaning of instructor-student management within the simulator. Bring me your training challenges and top collisions, and let's discuss and discover that, yes, simulator training is an affordable option and basic skill development is the way to go!
Get on board and 'watch the closing doors.'
In case you missed it...
Read our METRO blog, "OCTA CEO:Kick-starting new routines this fall for commuters," 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!