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48 CHAPTER FIVE OPERATOR PROTECTION METHODS: PERSONNEL, POLICING, AND TRAINING The prevention of an assault begins with the transit agency's does offer pepper spray training to operators who request it. hiring process. The requirements for being a successful bus Both agencies operate in "shall-issue" states for concealed operator are many and include not only good driving skills but firearms--the granting authorities have no discretion over per- also interpersonal and communications skills. The right tem- mit applications, and must automatically issue permits to their perament, ability to handle stressful situations, and ability to residents if minimum criteria are met. Oleoresin capsicum, the communicate with diverse populations are essential. Good main ingredient in pepper sprays and gels, irritates the skin, candidates can be identified through objective and compre- eyes, and the upper respiratory tract. It is considered to be gen- hensive bus operator selection systems. APTA's BOSS and erally safer than other nonlethal tools and effective in subdu- CUTA's STRADA systems are discussed in this chapter. ing violent individuals and stopping assailants. Questions, however, have been raised regarding its effectiveness on indi- Policing is an effective bus operator protection method. viduals under the influence of narcotics and alcohol, and few Uniformed officers providing visible security are a strong scientific safety studies have been performed. Permitted con- deterrent against all types of crime, including passenger centrations and allowable use vary by state in the United assault of bus operators. Plainclothes officers can witness States. It is not permitted for use in Canada. Some agencies crimes being committed and apprehend the perpetrators. Fast provide self-defense training to their operators in the use of and effective response to an assault can mitigate its conse- pepper sprays and gels. quences by preventing further injuries and through the pro- vision of timely medical attention. Furthermore, fare evaders and perpetrators of minor violations often progress to more BUS OPERATOR SELECTION serious crimes, including operator assault; targeting them is The prevention of assaults starts in the agency's hiring believed to mitigate crimes on operators. process. In order to identify the best bus operator candidates, understanding what "success" is, what characteristics and Operator training in customer relations, conflict mitiga- tion, diversity, stress management, and verbal techniques other factors lead to "success," and how to identify these such as verbal judo is vital for new bus operators in facing the characteristics and factors is important. An individual who is daily challenges of their job. Refresher training for current skilled at handling stressful situations and at interacting with operators is important as well in preventing operator assaults. the public would be less likely to be the victim of an assault Self-defense training and tools provide bus operators with a as a bus operator. Recruiting the wrong candidate is costly to protection measure that is immediately available to the oper- the agency. If a candidate decides to leave in the middle of ator during an attack. No matter how fast responders arrive the training program, screening and hiring another candidate on the scene, even a few minutes can be enough to cause takes time and resources. If candidates stay and perform badly, significant injury to the operator. At the same time, agencies they may endanger their own lives and the lives of their pas- are concerned about liability issues and the reluctance of sengers and expose the agency to liability suits. its operators to carry self-defense tools. If an agency does choose to implement self-defense training or issue a self- The Bus Operator Selection System (BOSS), developed defense tool, the reason for its use and assurance regarding its by APTA and its member transit systems and training direc- safety will help agencies justify the security measure to the tors, U.S.DOT, U.S. Department of Labor, and EB Jacobs, public. Also note that weapons carry and acquisition laws consists of a preemployment screening survey and a struc- differ on a state-by-state basis. In states with more permis- tured interview process. The survey contains 75 questions sive laws, operators may believe themselves to be more vul- and is administered online or through paper-and-pencil tests. nerable and may be more willing to use self-defense tools Immediate results are available for the online system. The and techniques to assure themselves of their own security, optional structured interview process is a set of standardized and agencies may be more willing to implement self-defense questions and behaviorally anchored rating scales linked to training and tools. Houston METRO is the only U.S. agency, elements of the bus operator's job. The transit agency's HR as of the date of this report, that issues a self-defense tool personnel are instructed to focus on certain questions based to its operators. One agency, Metro Transit in Minnesota, on each candidate's survey results. The annual fee for BOSS,

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49 including BOSS and eBOSS platform access, access to Agency Experience BOSS scores and online reports, program updates, and two hours of support is $1,000 per property; additional support is Canadian Urban Transit Association available for purchase. The scoring fee for the set of customer The STRADA Recruitment Toolkit, developed by CUTA in service, attendance, safety, and honesty measures is $13.50 conjunction with Assess Systems, is designed to increase the per candidate. The interview tool includes standardized ques- probability of selecting the best candidates for the position of tions, rating scales to assess different performance dimen- bus operator. The Toolkit includes prescreening and realistic sions, training materials, and 3 h of phone support. The fee is job previews, testing, and interviewing. As part of its STRADA $1,800 for individual properties, $1,500 per property within a Toolkit, CUTA created a bus operator competency frame- group of four to nine properties, or $1,200 per property for 10 work. Competency areas within the framework included cus- or more properties. Additional support and on-site training are tomer service (interpersonal communication, problem-solving also available at additional cost. A study of more than 800 competency, safety and emergency response), professional bus operators hired using the BOSS system was performed image and work environment, vehicle monitoring and driving, by APTA. An average of seven fewer missed days per oper- and personal management. A customized situational judgment ator and 20% fewer accidents per year was expected. Also, module provides candidates with realistic situations they are a savings of $2,500 per operator in the first year's costs was likely to encounter (e.g., customer complaint) and asks them to estimated by transit agencies. The savings consisted of identify the best and worst responses to the situation. Informa- diminished absenteeism and tardiness, reductions in accident/ tion gathered from experts and job observations were used to incident liability, reductions in training dropouts, and the select the set of 20 scenarios. Each agency receives a review need to interview fewer candidates. of its HR process, and agency personnel participate in a 2-day Train the Interviewer training session. There is a one-time sub- The STRADA Toolkit is another example of a comprehen- scription fee that includes the Toolkit along with the training sive operator selection system. It was initiated by the transit session and ongoing access to testing and support. The cost is industry in 2007 based on a CUTA survey that showed that determined by agency size and ranges from $7,500 to $30,000. qualified bus operator candidates were being screened out Because the STRADA has not yet been extensively imple- using existing hiring techniques. The STRADA system was mented, its precise impact on the reduction of the number of developed with the input of many transit human resources pro- operator assaults is not yet known. However, agencies that pur- fessionals and extensive research across North America to chase the Toolkit anticipate significant benefits--Edmonton eliminate bias or discrimination in the hiring process. CUTA's Transit System, for example, expects annual savings of almost testing partner, Assess Systems of Dallas, Texas, regularly $200,000 a year. monitors the results and upgrades the test as required. The STRADA Toolkit includes the following elements: NYC Transit, New York, New York Competency Modeling identifies the actual core job NYC Transit participated in the development of APTA's Bus competencies necessary for success as a transit bus Operator Selection System (BOSS) and now uses the system operator. to select bus operators. The BOSS has led to a more qualified Effective Interviewing Techniques result in greater set of bus operators and has significantly reduced bus acci- knowledge of the candidate, which then leads to a more dents. Also, all new hires are included in an extensive evalua- informed hiring decision. tion review program. Once operators depart the training center Comprehensive Candidate Assessments allow transit and are assigned to their initial depot, they are monitored and systems to find individuals who are the best "fit" for have interaction with supervision on a monthly basis, up to operator positions. The new STRADA assessment their 1-year probationary period. Their job performance survey was developed and validated with current bus may lead to dismissal or an extended probationary time. operators in 15 transit systems across Canada. Winnipeg Transit, Manitoba, Canada Advantages Winnipeg's Bus Operator Selection System consists of five Agency perspective--Standardized, objective, and con- steps. Bus operator candidates must meet the standard on sistent process is likely to result in a fair and faster hiring each step before they can proceed onto the next step. The process and the selection of individuals most likely to suc- candidates demonstrating the greatest potential are offered ceed as bus operators. Selecting the wrong candidate can positions at Winnipeg Transit. Step 1 is the initial application be costly: (1) if the candidate decides to leave after under- and public relations test. Fifty scenes of bus operators inter- going training or (2) if the candidate stays but performs acting with the public are shown to the candidate by means poorly, he or she can become a liability for the agency. of video. The candidate needs to choose the best response to Bus operator perspective--hiring individuals with the the situation. In Step 2, a study guide is provided to the can- appropriate temperament means higher likelihood of didate to help the candidate prepare for the written test. The job satisfaction. test consists of 75 multiple-choice questions in the following