Training Bus Skill Development...Lengthy, Costly, and Risky

Posted on February 8, 2017 by Louie Maiello - Also by this author

Unfortunately, I’ve seen too many new candidate bus operator programs that are in need of a streamlined upgrade. The biggest concerns are:

  • Curriculum flow
  • Wasted training dollars & time
  • Training until one gets it

A well thought out flow of what curriculum should be introduced, as well as its level of difficulty for each day, will easily begin to determine those students that are standing out from their peers as either progressing favorably or lagging behind the other training bus students. The degree of difficulty should progress upward in a slow but consistent manner amongst the staff of instructors. Well-trained instructors implementing nothing less than a standardized training program makes this a reality.

Many agencies allow their instructors to become personally attached to a new student due to the initial basic skill development being excessively long. The longer it takes to make the call on whether a new student advances or must resign from training, the more training dollars will be spent. It should not be this way. There is a program that utilizes training dollars smartly and only where needed, while still advancing the cream of the crop of students through training. This savings can be put to use for other training needs. I’ve had the opportunity to share this in my travels to transit agencies and will continue to do so until I no longer have an audience. Knowing how to implement it and understanding all the ingredients that have made this successful in its implementation is what attacks and resolves the issues I mentioned above.

Training "until one gets it," rather than having a mandatory cutoff date where training ceases, is not only dangerous but deceitful. Longer training does not necessarily produce the cream of the crop, and in some cases, those who have trained "until they get it" can experience their first collision much sooner than those who trained with the minimal amount of required training. Check your stats and see if this may be the case. Yes, some will legitimately require more time than others to hopefully qualify but "it must be within the established training days allotted."

It is the "moral responsibility" of all training departments to never advance any trainee that would be considered a hazard to the agency, the public they will serve, and the student themselves. Training “until one gets it” to satisfy hiring numbers is a risky practice. Training departments that are pressured to provide a pre-determined number of qualified students allow unqualified trainees to become operators that will undoubtedly have higher collision rates and severities. It will come back to bite us big time.

In closing, refrain from training until “one gets it.” Train within the allotted days in the standard program. When deciding to either qualify or disqualify a student, those qualifying for advancement should be only those students that you would allow without hesitation, to transport a member of your family on their bus.

Remember, be morally correct, not quota correct.

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 Director, Training Services, for Transit Training Solutions.

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