Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) President Dorval Carter Jr. announced the agency is taking new steps to expand and customize training for bus operators as part of the agency’s ongoing efforts to improve operations and enhance safety for customers.

The changes to training include:

  • Additional route-specific instruction for some routes, including those that operate in the Central Business District.
  • Increased ride-along evaluations by managers and supervisors to ensure proper adherence to procedures and policies.
  • An increase in the total number of training days for new bus operators, including additional “practicum training,” with bus instructors during field instruction.

“CTA already has a comprehensive, focused training program for all our operators and follows well-established practices similar to those of other transit agencies across the country,” Carter said. “But we are always looking for ways to better serve our passengers. By strengthening the training our operators receive, the CTA will improve what is already one of the best bus safety records in the country and, at the same time, enhance service to customers.”

In addition to changes to training, Carter said he has directed CTA staff to also undertake a study to identify the most challenging routes in terms of operations and technical skill. The analysis will consider a wide range of data, including traffic levels (vehicular, bike and pedestrian), ongoing construction, number of crashes/citations, passenger volumes and other factors. He has also directed senior bus operations managers to deploy more bus supervisory staff in the Central Business District to assist with daily operations.

The changes are in line with the principles of a new safety framework being developed by the Federal Transit Administration (FTA), known as the Safety Management System (SMS). In November 2014, the FTA chose the CTA as the first transit agency in the nation to assist in the development of SMS, which will develop uniform standards to upgrade and ensure safety for transit operations throughout the country.

As one of the first changes under SMS, starting later this month CTA bus operators will receive six weeks of training, which includes classroom instruction and field training and is comparable to training provided by many U.S. transit agencies. The extra week of training over the previous five-week program will include additional driving instruction and general safety training, and give CTA one of the most comprehensive bus-operator training programs of any major U.S. transit agency.

Additionally, all CTA operators are required to have a Commercial Driver’s License, with additional instruction/testing to receive endorsements for passenger vehicles and air brakes.

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