Training Bus Chatter: Keep it Performance Focused with New Candidates

Posted on April 6, 2016 by Louie Maiello - Also by this author

Photo courtesy Omnitrans
Photo courtesy Omnitrans

This month I will be touching on the instructor’s role in setting the tone between instructor and new bus operator student candidates with regard to keeping training bus chatter focused on the tasks ahead.

The instructor is the “captain of his ship." Aside from having to posses the ability to demonstrate, and then, teach a student candidate to successfully operate safely in passenger service, they take upon themselves the responsibility of having to make the right call to terminate or advance them forward.

The training bus will be the “classroom on wheels” throughout the basic skill development phase. With that comes the possibility of getting too personal with your students. Beware, this can come back to bite you. Topics that have no place on the training bus may possibly offend someone. The recipient of your statement may not immediately make it known to you at that time. You can be sure that the moment you inform the student candidate that they failed to successfully complete the training program, whatever you may have said that may have offended them will surface. This just may be enough with or without legal assistance to get an additional round of training. It usually sounds something like this: “I felt offended by what the instructor said and it affected my ability to satisfactorily complete the training program.” Remember that it’s possible that your actions may have very well offended them so keep that in mind.

As we all have experienced, chatter regarding topics other than performance-based basic skill development, such as current events, sports or one’s families, will develop onboard and can break the tension that candidates are experiencing in attempting to do their best. This tension breaker may do good for them, but this should occur during non-development drive time.

Even then, carefully monitor what topics are discussed and remain disciplined about what you say. During the one-on-one daily post training evaluations, never raise your voice, talk down or compare the performance of another more advanced student to your subject. It can have the same devastating effect as if doing it to your children. It is not a good practice to tell a student that “you are sure to pass this training program" or “you only need one or two more days." Stay neutral. If they ask if you think they will pass the program simply state “keep giving 100% of your efforts and an evaluation will be made at the completion of the program.”

Likewise, if you don’t believe they will satisfactorily complete the training program, then refrain from telling them before they have exhausted all available training days. Telling them they won’t pass before the completion of training will provide them with reason to accuse you of discouraging them from performing well for the remaining training days and pre-judging the remaining training efforts based on their performance thus far.

Another conflict can occur when they claim that other instructors they may have had during basic skill development were inconsistent in their teachings. That is why I have always said that your instructional staff must be on the same page with what they are teaching. Trainer inconsistency is a step in the wrong direction for your training program. When putting pen to paper, be sure that your documentation can be clearly understood by your student candidate and others who may need to refer back to it at a future date. Proper documentation is critical in the case of a student candidate operator who may attempt to dispute a dismissal and may want to protest and pursue some type of legal options to challenge an instructor’s final evaluation. Where an “Unsatisfactory” check-off is warranted, be sure to document include a brief statement as to what occurred behind the wheel that justified the “Unsatisfactory” performance.

In closing, set guidelines, keep the chatter productive, watch what you say and set the example.

Louie Maiello is a sr. consultant (transit training & simulation), L-3/DPA; independent consultant, Bus Talk Surface transit Solutions; and writes a monthly blog for

View comments or post a comment on this story. (0 Comments)

More Safety Corner Blog Posts

October 12, 2016

The Power of Collaboration to Promote Safe Bus Operations

Years ago, I was with Louie Maiello when someone walked over and asked him for some advice: “We’re having problems with people remembering to secure the bus before they leave their seat. Do you have any advice? How can we get them to remember?” Without missing a beat, Louie said “PIN it.” The advice seeker happened to be a veteran mechanic, so he understood and walked away to resume his work. I stood there for a while scratching my head. Pin it?

September 16, 2016

Bus Collisions and the Fully-Equipped 'Medicine Cabinet'

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.

August 9, 2016

Zen and the Art of Bus Driving

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.”

July 27, 2016

5 Tips for Keeping Bus Operators Safe

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?"

July 19, 2016

Key Takeaways on Mass Transit Safety, Risk Management

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.

See More

Post a Comment

Post Comment

Comments (0)

More From The World's Largest Fleet Publisher

Automotive Fleet

The Car and truck fleet and leasing management magazine

Business Fleet

managing 10-50 company vehicles

Fleet Financials

Executive vehicle management

Government Fleet

managing public sector vehicles & equipment


Work Truck Magazine

The number 1 resource for vocational truck fleets

Schoolbus Fleet

Serving school transportation professionals in the U.S. and Canada

LCT Magazine

Global Resource For Limousine and Bus Transportation

Please sign in or register to .    Close