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92 Tools and Training of classroom instruction and 68 hours of on-the-road training. for Paratransit Operators One respondent commented that training is the final screen- ing and helps the trainees "demonstrate their ability to com- As detailed by the Performance Pyramid, the next step prehend training material, verbalize and write their response toward satisfied employees and reduced turnover rates is the to specific questions and problems, and verify the trainee's pro- provision of training and other tools to aid operators in achiev- ficiency in the English language." ing their highest levels of performance. Following are examples Training materials were requested from the three largest and best practices identified in the literature, survey, and national private paratransit contractors. A review of the pro- through follow-up contacts made during the study. grams showed that each included the following: New Employee Orientation Legally required information, such as drug and alcohol test- ing program information, regulatory and safety require- Research completed for TCRP Report 77: Managing Tran- ments. sit's Workforce in the New Millennium (27), found that feeling Organizational orientation, including a review of human welcome is one of the most important and lasting impres- resources policy and procedures (e.g., sexual harassment). sions for a new employee joining a workforce. In the national Skills-related information, such as customer service and survey, various versions of new employee orientation pro- emergency and safety procedures. grams were reported by transit agencies around the nation. Operations orientation, including scheduling, dispatch, Results of data collected in focus groups and through inter- accounting or fare collections, and record keeping. views with various paratransit managers also showed that Vehicle familiarization including a variety of vehicles, lifts, new employee orientation is often a part of the new hire train- and securement devices. ing. Case studies revealed variations of new employee orien- Defensive driving and vehicle operation under a variety of tation programs. road conditions, terrain, and locations (e.g., expressways). The City of Baltimore's Department of Transportation's ADA requirements and instruction on how to assist per- new employee orientation program familiarizes the employee sons with a variety of disabilities. with the culture and goals of the organization. Beginning with the first week of training, employees are introduced to a work- The programs also indicated that trainers utilize a "show, ing environment that respects their input, rewards involve- ment, and insists that each employee share responsibility for not tell" approach to model the instruction. This approach customer service. includes the following: According to the Transit Authority of River City (TARC) Training is presented in a hands-on, realistic manner; for in Louisville, KY, a successful new operator orientation is a team effort, which requires a top-down commitment for suc- example, simulations are used to model the correct way to cess. TARC's new employee orientation program is an orga- provide assistance to customers with a variety of disabilities. nizational effort and is supported by the Board of Directors, Training lasts for 6 to 8 weeks followed by a probationary the Executive Director, and all departments. The program period. begins with introductions to and presentations by the Executive Trainees are assessed for proficiency throughout the train- Director, Union President, and Director of Transportation. The ing by means of homework assignments, quizzes, observa- trainer also introduces the employee to department heads tions, and written tests. and other employees while touring the facilities. Employees receive an orientation package of information that includes Training in Advanced Technologies TARC's mission statement, vision statement, fiscal year goals and objectives, and training guidelines. A number of respondents to the survey noted that they have installed Global Positioning System (GPS) navigation systems on vehicles and have found that it helps new operators in par- Job-Specific Training for New Operators ticular. Even with better training and more time spent on map The new paratransit vehicle operator must be able to demon- reading and learning the area, it is difficult for new operators strate proficiency in each of the job description requirements, to have a good working knowledge of the entire service area including road skills testing and proper manifest reading and (particularly in very large systems). Technology that can assist mapping prior to being certified as capable of doing the job. with finding specific addresses can relieve much of the stress The national survey found that, on average, about 127 hours on new operators. It can even help experienced operators to of training are typically provided. This includes about 59 hours find infrequently used or uncommon addresses.