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.
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.
Operating a fixed-route bus in today’s distracted world requires high levels of focus and concentration. The brain must continually sift through loads of information during bus operation to determine what things can be ignored and what things pose a potential threat to our safety and well-being. Once the brain detects a potential hazard or threat, a specific response must occur to keep us from harm’s way. When our brains are forced to sustain this level of effort for long periods of time a great deal of energy is required.
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?