Up this month from the bus barn: “Post Training” review programs and how they support a “Hire to Retire” commitment toward operator training and development
Upon the completion of a new bus operator training class, only those students that have demonstrated the knowledge and basic skills necessary to advance to “route familiarization” and “passenger service” training should remain. This was achieved by disqualifying potentially unsafe students at the completion of the allotted training days, as defined by the training program. Those candidates that advanced through the training process have achieved something that both they the student and their instructors should be proud of.
All too often what was taught during the initial period can get diluted by what other operators may be saying or doing. Well-meaning veterans sometimes offer advice in an effort to “help” new operators that might be inconsistent with what was just taught to them on the training bus. Would you even recognize your past students by their driving performance? Do they resemble the student that you personally qualified into passenger service? If you had to think about the answer to those questions, chances are this blog is for you.
For those agencies with a large influx of operators with little experience in passenger service, usually with less than two years or three years behind the wheel, Post-Training Review programs can be an effective means to greatly improve your overall safety numbers and will help to minimize the eventual spike in collisions that usually occur within this group.
A condensed overview is provided below that addresses three programs that can be implemented at your agency. There are several more that can be listed, but we will focus on these three for now. Such programs are meant to assist your agency in achieving the safety performance numbers that we all strive for in the business of transporting “live” freight on a daily basis:
1. Probationary Review: This is by far the most critical period for management to determine if the performance standards are being applied consistently by the probationary operator and immediately identify and halt — early on — those behaviors that have begun to surface, which will result in an unsafe operator and contribute to an “at-risk” pedestrian environment. Observation rides are critical during this early period of an operator’s career. As part of this close monitoring process, continued and routine communication between depot management and training department management must occur.
2. Performance Monitoring Program: Training personnel should identify the percentage of total operators that are contributing to the collision pool. When reaching an unacceptable number of collisions during a specific time frame — both which are set by the Safety & Training Departments — a mutually agreed upon plan of corrective action would then be implemented and applied to those operators that were identified as individuals that needed to receive the remedy.
3. Refresher Program: Let's not forget the importance of a “Refresher” Program. An annual refresher is so critical in promoting a “Hire to Retire” training mentality. Talk to your operators. Acknowledge their good work in performing one of the most, if not the most, difficult public service positions. Show concern regarding the challenges of our distracted world and have them feel that a visit to engage with training personnel when they are involved in an incident will be a positive experience and not a humiliating one. Be stern when you need to be and respectful at all times. Administer a “Corrective Action” that will be directly applicable to the type of incident that occurred.
As stated above, there are other programs that can, and should, be utilized that I don't have the space to list here, but I think you get the idea. This is not to suggest that these programs are not already in place at your property, so if you do have them established — please share some comments regarding the benefits.
In closing, the days of only seeing “the boss” when you did something wrong should be long gone. Think “Hire to Retire” not “Time to be fired!”
In case you missed it...
Read our previous blog, "Are fearful, lurking parents a reason for uninspired transportation choice?"
Recent national incidents have put increased attention on safe commuting and what passengers can do to protect themselves during a transit emergency. “The most important tip anyone can follow is to wait for the instructions of the crew,” said Scott Sauer, chief system safety officer for SEPTA. “Crews know the equipment best and have been trained to safely remove passengers from vehicles should the situation warrant evacuation...
Are you getting frustrated because — in spite of what you’re doing — collisions are not dropping at your agency? With just a few tweaks, you can make a difference. If you are a chief training officer, training director, instructor or equivalent at your agency, then this message is for you.
I may be all alone on this one, but I discovered that my kids (who were not allowed to play “shooter” video games) developed a distinct style of driving (and a lot of unsafe habits) while playing their video driving games as pre-teens and young teenagers. In fact, I wound up spending a great deal of my time trying to undo these habits and deep set tendencies while my boys still had their learner's permits.
Technology was not in my vocabulary as a kid, but now it's at the front of the line. I’m not saying I’m against it, but could we step back a moment and catch our breath when it comes to technology and bus operations? It seems what used to be a fairly unobstructed view of the road ahead, and to the sides of the bus using simple dashboards and adequately sized mirrors, now appears to resemble a cockpit of the world’s most sophisticated aircraft.
Congratulations to METRO Magazine on celebrating its 110th year of serving the rail and transit industry! I was excited and, frankly, stunned to learn that I was named one of METRO’s 20 “Most Influential People of the Decade” as part of the magazine’s observance of this milestone. Being included in the company of these well-known and respected transportation professionals and policymakers is a rewarding and humbling experience, and underscores the benefits of working together to further improve the safety and efficiency of public transportation.