Public transit in rural and small urban areas is provided primarily to those groups who are dependent on this form of transportation, such as the elderly and disabled. Public transit includes buses, commuter rail, demand response services, light rail and vanpools. This service is primarily local in nature.
National RTAP and its partner organizations, the Federal Transit Administration and the National Tribal Transit Association, will sponsor a national conference on March 18 to 21, 2012 at the Radisson, Fort McDowell Hotel near Scottsdale, Ariz.
Unique issues facing rural and small urban properties will be discussed. The company I consult for, FAAC Incorporated, is providing its shuttle van driver training simulator to raise awareness of the capabilities of simulator supplemental training in rural training programs. Having a simulator there will provide a great opportunity to participate in determining corrective action solutions to some of the most frequently occurring collisions facing rural and small urban properties.
At the conference I am slated to conduct three educational sessions on driver training simulation as a means toward negating the challenges faced by rural operators. The sessions will include an overview on what a simulator training program looks like, how to introduce a simulator into the 'basic skill development' portion of a training program and how to work with veteran operators. If you are planning to attend, please stop by and say 'hi.' FAAC has a booth, and you can find me there or in a special room where the simulator will be set up. See how this technology can ensure that a leading collision for one year does not repeat itself the following year.
My dealings in surface transit were mostly centered on buses that were between 40 feet and 60 feet in length. Approximately 99% of the time these buses were serving the needs of customers within the five boroughs of New York. Bus collision types did not vary much among large transit agencies then, and I find that to still be true. Recently, however, while accumulating data on rural transit issues, I immediately noticed the differences in collision types versus larger agencies. In agencies equipped with larger vehicles, where backing is discouraged by increased forward-planning applications, backing collisions resulting in contact with fixed objects were right at the top of the list for one regional rural property. There were several other findings, but I am not privileged to list them all in this blog.
Corrective action training in the prevention of incidents/collisions, along with having standard operating procedures in place, will contribute to safe operations among all transit agencies, small or large. Standardized training for new hires, providing annual refresher training for all operators, and being proactive with regard to reducing high-profile, frequently occurring incidents, are all key elements of a complete training solution package.
Adequate training should be provided in:
- Special needs individuals.
- Dealing with difficult passengers.
- Wheelchair lift operation and securement.
- Vehicle fires and evacuation.
People skills are at a premium due to the greater personalized interaction within rural and small urban agencies, and between customers/passengers and the vehicle operators.
In case you missed it...
Read our METRO blog, "OCTA CEO: Planes, trains and automobiles - but what about bikes?" here.
When official-plated transit authority vehicles were scarce and basically reserved for those in upper management to go about their daily business to and from meetings, etc..., road control would be the responsibility of the “fixed-post foot dispatcher.” Not all of these positions have been eliminated, but I wonder if any readers remember the stability and sense of control that was present while the foot dispatcher was on post?
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."
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.