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97 effort to ensure a positive experience for new operators from in that system. Another example of operator mentoring, day one. Feedback is obtained using a one-page survey given described in TCRP Report 77, comes from fixed-route transit to employees upon completion of new operator training. operations but is also applicable in a paratransit environ- The survey is titled New Hire Evaluation. The header states ment. Both programs are described in the following sections. its purpose: Cadetting WELCOME TO SCR! Please take a few moments to fill out this survey and let us know about your experience as you join our SCR MV Transportation at SamTrans in San Carlos, California, family. We take your input very seriously and want to address reported use of post-classroom, behind-the-wheel peer sup- your concerns from the minute you walk through our doors. port as part of its training program, including 40 hours of "cadetting." Cadetting assigns a trainee to an experienced Operators are asked to respond anonymously to the fol- operator who serves as an operator coach and models driving lowing questions by selecting either agree, not sure, disagree, the vehicle before turning it over to the trainee. or no opinion: Details of the program are as follows: 1. I was pleased with the service I received when applying for The trainee is to arrive earlier than the operator so he/she the position can map out the manifest. 2. The front desk was responsive when it came to the The trainee completes the pre-trip inspection with the inquires about my application status operator. 3. The interviewer was pleasant and informative. The operator starts driving in the morning, and the trainee 4. The impression that I have of the company after the inter- takes over after lunch. view is the same impression I had of the company after The trainee performs customer service duties, operates the training. 5. The trainer was knowledgeable of the material shown in radio, and assists riders who use wheelchairs. The trainee fills out the manifest cover sheet. class. The trainee completes the post-trip inspection with the 6. The material used in class (written, verbal, video and audio) were all helpful and informative. operator. 7. The road training was useful and made me feel more con- fident about the job. Transferrable Fixed-Route Operator 8. My road trainer was knowledgeable and I felt confident Mentoring Procedures with his training. 9. I feel ready to tackle the job after completing the full train- RTC RIDE in Reno, NV, has had a mentoring program for ing course. new fixed-route coach operators since 2000 (TCRP Report 77 describes the program using its former name, Citifare Oper- At the bottom of the survey, new operators were given suf- ating Mentoring Program). The program is an example of a ficient space and an opportunity to write comments about structured approach to preparing veteran operators to guide, each of the following: tutor, coach, and advise new operators during the beginning weeks of their employment. The goal of the program is to The training's strengths were. make the adjustment to the RIDE way of doing things as easy I believe the following can improve the training. as possible. This cost-effective strategy has proven to improve General Comments. the retention rate of new operators. The mentor program begins following the trainee's completion of a 7-week class- Ongoing vehicle operator feedback is invited at regular com- room and line-instruction course. pany meetings. SCR also has a suggestion box that is used for The following is how the program works: feedback between meetings. The company takes the additional step of reporting on comments received, as well as progress Mentors are selected from among veteran operators who made in addressing issues raised as part of its employee have good records and show potential for teaching others newsletter. what they know. Each mentor completes a 16-hour mentoring training seminar. Best Practice: Mentoring The Operations Training Coordinator assigns each new One paratransit provider shared information about its operator a mentor, a veteran operator who conducts the mentoring program for new operators, known as "cadetting" revenue training with the new operator and afterwards

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98 maintains contact related to personal and or work-related Supervisors monitor the trainee's performance and enter issues that affect work performance. any observations they find in a shared confidential log. At At the Encounters-of-the-Meal-Kind, a meal paid for by the end of the trainee's probationary period, he or she RIDE, the operator and mentor sign a contract that out- meets with the Training Coordinator, the trainee's super- lines what their relationship will be in the future. visor, and the Director of Operations for a final interview, The mentor and trainee follow through with the contrac- bringing to close the formal training program. At this tual agreement and meet regularly to discuss any issues or meeting the trainee is retained or discharged based on concerns the trainee may have. their performance during the probationary period. If On average, each mentor assignment lasts between 60 to performance concerns exist and the decision is to retain 90 days; however, the length of time may vary based on indi- the employee, additional training is scheduled with the vidual trainee needs. assigned mentor. The mentor completes observations and evaluations and submits the documents to the Training Coordinator. The program is successful because of a number of factors: The mentor also works as part of a team to solve specific (1) mentors are veteran operators with exemplary records operations-related problems and recommend changes and are well prepared for the mentoring role; (2) mentors are where necessary. recognized for their contributions with the special lapel pin; Mentors receive a seven percent pay increase during the (3) a formal contracting and evaluation process is the foun- assignment period. dation of the program; and (4) confidentiality that is main- Mentors are recognized as special by the "RIDE Mentor" tained between the operator and mentor creates a bond of lapel pin they wear. caring and concern between the two individuals.