Well, another BusCon has come and gone and this year’s gathering was again the place to be. The abundant networking opportunities, the various presentation topics and the industry’s latest offerings made it a win — for all! I would like to thank all of you that were part of the standing room only audience that attended the session given by my colleague Steve Mentzer and I, representing L-3. We appreciate the opportunity to have answered your questions with regard to ‘Blended Learning, Creating a Bus Operator Training Program and Bus Simulator Training.’
A question was asked regarding the amount of training to administer and how to ensure proper placement of a new hire candidate that brings some past driving experience with transport vehicles that required a CDL. (fixed-route bus, trucking, school bus, etc...)
- Should they complete the entire training program?
- Should they automatically be considered ‘qualified’ to be placed in passenger service/route familiarization?
In most of my student bus operator classes, some first-day arrivals consisted of people who already possessed a valid CDL license (void of any restrictions that would have prevented them to continue on with training and carrying the proper endorsements, etc…). The CDL only ensures that the trainee would not have to test with the state DMV during their training. That's all it guaranteed.
Other arrivals included some that needed to obtain the required CDL and others who rarely drove a motor vehicle and used their license as a form of identification. This last type was usually the toughest to train as they were basically learning to drive again, but this time the vehicle was a bus, not a car. Not the easiest vehicle to utilize as a refresher tool to rejoin the driving population.
Some, but not all, who already possessed a valid CDL license found themselves behind the eight ball when arriving for training because with them they brought ‘baggage’ from their previous experience. This baggage would take the form of bad driving habits and over confidence. Many had driven larger vehicles then what they were attempting to now qualify on, but they soon discovered that although they were experience drivers, they were now faced with the deprogramming progress of having to lose bad habits and having to learn how to drive a transit vehicle according to the standards of the agency’s training department and not the way they were accustomed to driving in the past. Those that arrived with driving habits not acceptable to the training agency were usually in the form of:
- Unable to set up and utilize mirrors according to the agencies standards.
- Excessive speed.
- Failing to utilize push / pull steering.
With the clock ticking and having a limited amount of training days to qualify, some lost precious time and found themselves lagging behind most of the class eventually running out of available training days, which resulted in them having to resign. Training should not be endless but have a set amount of training days available to qualify or be disqualified. A new hire candidate must qualify in the required time or it’s over. As an instructor, do not make the mistake of believing that you don’t have to be as critical with ‘already licensed’ CDL drivers that enter your training program simply because they arrive with such credentials. Be consistent with all new hire candidates. Have them complete the entire training program as this will allow you to look at the class as one and send a message to those already having a CDL that they will not receive a free ride to qualifying.
Remember, it’s the agency’s way or the highway.
Louie is the former director of training for the New York City Transit Dept. of Buses Safety & Training Division and 2003 NTI Fellow. Currently, he is sr. consultant/SME in transit training & bus simulation at L-3 D.P. Associates and independent consultant at "Bus Talk" Surface Transit Solutions.
In case you missed it...
Read our previous blog, "Learn how to create a comprehensive driver training program"
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?"
The RMS occurred last month in Albany, N.Y. and it was a truly remarkable learning experience for those in attendance. The RMS serves as a one-of-a-kind event that brings together transit risk management professionals from all across the country to focus on key topics related to safety, risk management, planning and prevention.
I recently attended, and had the opportunity to be part of a panel of speakers, at the NYC MTA Bus Safety Symposium. A variety of topics were discussed regarding bus and pedestrian safety issues. What was obvious is we all have a common goal to provide the safest transit systems possible, in spite of the possibility of increasing bus/pedestrian and bus/cyclist collisions.