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53 Adequacy of Overall Training includes individuals with disabilities in the disability aware- Reading and Managing Schedules ness, ADA requirements, and passenger assistance portions of the training. Customer Relations Training As noted in the "Developing an Employee Profile and Pre- Map Reading and Orientation Qualifications" section, the research to date indicates that Provide Necessary of the Area improved skills in map reading and schedule reading are Training and Tools needed. Typically, in the classroom portions of most training Well-Maintained and programs, only about 4 hours are allocated to map reading Comfortable Vehicles and about 2 hours to schedule reading. Many of the operators Advanced Technologies that Assist who participated in the focus groups indicated that addi- with the Job tional training time was needed in these areas. Ongoing Training In terms of schedule reading and management, there Figure 4-3. Key factors in training and on-the-job reportedly is a need for new vehicle operators to have a bet- tools. ter understanding of all of the "times" involved in ADA para- transit and included on the manifests. For example, if a mani- fest shows the scheduled pick-up time, rather than the ETA, tant factor. Figure 4-3 shows some of the key considerations new vehicle operators need to know that there is an on-time in training and the tools that can help with recruitment and window associated with that scheduled time and they have retention. 20 or 30 minutes leeway in performing that trip. A common complaint of vehicle operators, repeated in the focus groups, is that the schedule has them "in two places at the same time." Training This is likely due to the fact that the scheduled time is shown Effective initial training is obviously important for prepar- and the scheduler expects one pick-up to be performed early ing new vehicle operators for the job. Being adequately pre- in the 2030 minute on-time window and the second to be pared to perform the job can reduce frustration, increase job performed later in the window. If the ETA is shown, opera- satisfaction, improve retention, and improve performance. tors need to know that the scheduler is expecting them to per- The national survey of paratransit providers found that, on form trips as close as possible to this time to make the sched- average, about 127 hours of training is typically provided. ule work (but that there still may be some leeway even with This includes about 59 hours of classroom instruction and ETAs). Better training in understanding how to read and use 68 hours of on-the-road training. Longer training (up to the time allowances in the schedule can improve job satisfac- eight weeks) is provided by public entities that have com- tion and performance. bined fixed-route and paratransit workforces and that train Another common issue cited by systems and operators is new vehicle operators in both modes. Classroom training the lack of full understanding of the features of advanced typically covers the service policies and procedures, the com- technologies. For example, the main screen on mobile pany policies and procedures, ADA requirements, orientation computer systems (MDCs) may show only basic trip infor- to vehicles and equipment, passenger assistance techniques, mation. Special pick-up instructions are often contained disability awareness, customer service training, defensive on secondary screens. Vehicle operators need to be trained driving, map reading, drug and alcohol program training, to know how to access these secondary screens, and an sexual harassment training, orientation to schedules and paper- emphasis needs to be placed on making sure that all trip work, and other topics. In some systems, short versions of first- information is checked before a pick-up is made. Not aid and CPR are provided. understanding how to access full information can result The first part of the on-the-road portion of the training in no-shows and missed trips, operator frustration, and typically has the new operator ride along with an experienced decreased performance. In general, if advanced technolo- operator/trainer. In the latter part of the on-the-road train- gies are employed, training to proficiency in the operation ing, the new operator performs the service and is observed by of these systems is needed. an experienced operator/trainer. An innovative practice that was identified in the research Best practice is to test for proficiency as each portion of the was to start the training program by having applicants spend training is completed. This involves written tests for the class- a day on the road with an experienced operator; this report- room training and observations and grading of performance edly gave operators a much better sense of the actual job. for the passenger assistance and vehicle and equipment ori- Applicants have an opportunity at the end of this first day to entation segments, as well as a final grading of performance decide if they want to pursue the job. It was reported that giv- at the end of the on-the-road segment. Best practice also ing applicants this early exposure reduced drop-out rates