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.
Soon after reaching my 20th year in the transit industry, back in 1993, after a draining day of addressing routine bus issues, I would cross paths with another employee, who I always remember, seemed to be quietly “doing his own little daily gig.”
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?"