Fixing The Relationship Between Management and Bus Operators

Unfortunately in our line of work one of the tensest relationships is that amongst drivers and supervisors. Drivers think the supervisors are out to get them, supervisors think drivers are bad, the list of reasons why we don’t like one another goes on and on. Now, this isn’t to say that they aren’t bad supervisors and bad bus operators because I’m sure they are. However, these cases are more of an exception, not the rule. In this article I will break down why the relationship with operators and supervisors is toxic, and what you can do to fix it.

One of the biggest myths surrounding supervisors is that they are here to “hurt” operators. As a former operator myself I won’t sit here and lie, I have had some bad experiences with a few supervisors. Supervisor Baker, from my MTA days, immediately comes to mind. But for every Supervisor Baker experience I’ve had, I’ve had equal if not hundreds of better experiences from people like Supervisor Rochester, Dowry, Briggs, and Mitchell. But to begin to understand Supervisors and why the relationship is the way it is, we have to understand what their actual job is.

At the supervisor’s core, their job is to do all within their power to make sure that the product transit advertises is the product that’s on the road. And at times that will come at the expense of what operators may deem correct or fit. However, as drivers, we have to understand the measurements and metrics supervisors are graded upon, are completely different from those in which we are as operators.

True story, when I had gotten into the business, bids, procurement, and things like that, I discovered this interesting little thing called “damages”. Simple pitch, damages are fines that a client(State or Agency) issues a business partner(Agency or Vendor) when the transportation provider does not meet an agreed guideline within a contract or agreement.

Here are just a few of the things that we do as operators that get the agency or transportation provider penalized.

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  • Leaving the yard late
  • Hats that arent company approved
  • Leaving the first stop late

I picked these three because I was guilty of all of these during my career. Not because I was a bad guy or just a prick. But because in my mind at the time, I thought what I was doing was a “victimless”  crime. To put this in perspective, let’s say an agency is penalized $300 dollars every time I choose to leave the yard late. If I ignorantly leave late every day for an entire month, I just cost my boss $7,500

The agency wants to ensure that the public, the taxpayer or simply put all of our bosses, get the best version of the product they are paying us to provide. To guarantee this, they will put checks and balances in place to ensure that happens. To ensure you leave the first stop on time, I have to ensure you leave the yard on time, and that’s why we have an “insert policy here”. woman-standing-at-bus-stop-milan-italy-2021-11-17-17-51-27-utc

Its the supervisor’s responsibility to make sure these processes and procedures are followed to the best of the operator’s ability because if we don’t it can get quite expensive. The Vendor/Contractor is accountable to the Agency, the Agency is accountable to The State, and The State is accountable to the Taxpayer. The Taxpayer dictates the funding that makes all of this move.  As operators, we need to understand that the supervisors are the face of the taxpayer, not the operators. The taxpayer provides funding to allow us to do this, if we do not do this taxpayer withdraws funds. We do a good job, more money. We do a bad job, less money.

Here is a great article on transit funding from my good bud Micheal Walk and his team down at the Texas A&M Transportation Institute.

Supervisors, in a nutshell, represent the best interest of the taxpayer and as operators, we need to understand that, and know that it’s not personal.

However what if I told you the operators generally don’t have a problem with any of this. The big problem in all of the transit from an operations point of view comes down to one simple concept.

Are you ready for it?

Customer Service

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As Operators, the public does not despise our ability to drive big vehicles. They hate our customer service. As Supervisors, the operators don’t hate your ability to supervise, they hate your customer service skills.  I never disliked supervisor Baker’s ability to supervise, but her customer service skills left a lot to be desired.

The issues with supervisors are customer service-related, rooted in poor communication, bad tone, mediocre body language, and absolutely zero motivational skills. I have no problem with a supervisor telling me to take a bus through if I didn’t get relieved. I do have a problem with the lack of compassion and understanding of how this impacts me.

 As a supervisor ideally it should be the focal point to do all possible to motivate operates to do the right thing, not threaten them. That’s how you lose a team. That’s how you get a workforce that doesn’t care. If a bus operator did not have great customer service skills, it’s a good guess that as a supervisor they’ll have bad customer service with the operators. In order to fix the supervisor’s relationship with operators, you must address the customer service aspect of the relationship. In order to fix the relationship between drivers and passengers, you must fix the customer service component. 

Fix the root, and the tree will grow better

The great part in all of this is that understanding the problem is the first step in fixing it. 

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Transit abroad is better when former or aspiring operators are in leadership positions, and Lynx in Orlando gives operators the opportunity to do just that.

With a streamlined process that allows operators to grow from the bus to supervisors in less than 3 years. Operators can be the change they want to see. With an above-market wage, warm weather year-round, and fantastic infrastructure for career growth, Lynx is a premier opportunity for those looking to have a career with a high ceiling in transit. 

Not to mention, who wouldn’t want to drive past Disneyland every day?

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If you’d like to join LYNX or get more info, sign up at Gosupir.com 

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