Bad Training Is Ruining Bus Operators

6:00 am That’s the time you better be in training, at your desk, eyes wide open ready to learn.

Doors are shut at 6:01 am

6:02 am, If you aren’t in your seat, you might as well start looking for another job because you’ll be terminated from this one”

– Our lead trainer

Copy of Driverswbackground5 (2)Those were the exact words from the lead trainer as I and about 14 of my classmates left orientation Friday, August the 13th 2010.

I hadn’t even started and I was already worried about losing my job. This is Transit Training. A Culture not rooted in optimism and confidence. Rather fear and punishment. A culture where you’re taught to survive, not thrive. Bus Operations training does not develop and nurture its talent to be successful

It scares and intimidates them.

About a year ago, my love for the bus took me South, as I took a job driving transit again. I didn’t need the money, but it’s just something about getting behind the wheel that makes me smile. I missed it. I’d drive a bus full time for the rest of my life if our industry would evolve internally.

It had been 10 years since I had sat in a training program, so a part of me was excited about getting back on the ground level because of the value I could present to younger operators. I had driven for 10 years, had no accidents, was a stud at customer service, and even started my own company. All based on my love for the bus. Then reality sat in.

My trainer introduced himself, he asked us to state our name and how many years we had been driving. Once we had completed that, he said to toss all of that out of the window because it doesn’t matter anymore. They were going to train us in their image, and how they wanted us to drive, and if we didn’t we would be removed.

Heir in lies the very first problem with conventional transit training. Before the ink on your offer letter can dry, hierarchy is established, career experience is erased, enforcement is presented and fear culture begins.

What’s unique about this, is that it doesn’t work like this anywhere else in our industry.

Or any industry for that part.

Industry Professionals are recruited because of the skilled trade they have and how its utilization can benefit an organization.

Bus Operators, CDL or not, are not viewed as industry professionals with a skilled trade.

They’re viewed as low-skilled workers who are more of a liability than an asset.

An agency would never tell a planner everything they know doesn’t matter, because they know that’s not true. They hired them because of their experience and expertise. Furthermore, they understand that they and the planner have an equally beneficial relationship with one another.

This can be confirmed with my Service Development training. I was given the opportunity because my time behind the wheel was a valuable contribution to the team. No condensing training videos, no sigh here, or else paperwork.

Amber (my trainer) showed me how to work Trapeze, made me feel comfortable making mistakes, taught me how to align what I know with how they operate, and then sent me on my way.

She trusted me.

For drivers, it is the exact opposite.


Drivers are programmed through fear to “need” the agency early on, thus creating a hand-to-mouth relationship between the two parties. There is no trust at all.

As a driver, you’re forced to sit through hours of outdated video and sign paperwork that in reality comes back to establishing one point.

Do it this way or you’ll be fired.

“By signing this,

You’re agreeing to do it this way, if not you’ll be fired.

-Sincerely The Agency”

The agency does not care who you are, how long you’ve been doing it, or what you feel like you can bring to the table. This is not a team and you are not an individual, you are a robot and this is an assembly line.

The reality is, training is not about growth and development, it’s about the agency or contractor absolving liability.

Transit Training is a prenup.

It’s the agency’s way of saying “oh hey I like you, and I want to kinda commit, but just in case this marriage fails I need to be able to move on as scotch-free as possible”.

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