Picking up from my last blog, I would like to thank all those that came out to the three educational sessions conducted on Driver Training Simulation at the National RTAP and its partner organizations, the Federal Transit Administration and the National Tribal Transit Association in Fort McDowell, Ariz. I am looking forward to the follow-up conversations. It appeared the simulator hands-on training was well-received.
With that under your belt now, I thought the following words would be a nice follow-up to the sessions and questions that were asked:
Understanding how to blend simulator supplemental training into an existing training curriculum will most definitely lead to favorable results and positive benefits to a training program. Attempting to build a curriculum around the simulator is a mistake.
It can be a costly and unfavorable venture. The return on the training dollars that would have been invested in this tool in the form of favorable results and proven documented data to justify the purchase will be compromised. Curriculum in place first, then simulation supplementation.
Having the following three ingredients in place will minimize the possibility of not reaping the expected benefits of simulation training:
- Upper management buy-in.
- Instructor accountability.
- Pilot programs.
With regard to simulation, a lack of standardization in the application of simulator supplemental training can interfere with the process of obtaining the benefits one would hope to receive. When utilized properly in the hands of a knowledgeable, enthusiastic and creative instructor, the benefits will be easily recognized by all in the form of collision reductions, lower claims, a lowering of the student wash-out rate and an increase in only the cream of the crop of trainees being released to passenger service.
Chief training officers must remain aware that the lead simulator instructor can make or break a simulator program. They must be carefully selected and have the ability to identify a qualified back up ready to step in as necessary. The lead instructor is one of the most important, if not the most important, ingredient to ensure that simulator training remains effective and that the excitement generated early on during “Train the Trainer” sessions does not cease, causing the simulator not to be utilized as it should.
Training agencies can apply this supplemental training in different ways to improve training in general. Supplementation to an existing curriculum and not a replacement for curriculum is the correct application process.
In case you missed it...
Read our METRO blog, "OCTA CEO: New paratransit aids customers, improves efficiencies" 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!