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56 bus. In the past, operators were expected to challenge passen- lenging situations commonly faced by operators. Although gers who did not pay the proper fare. However, this led to con- this training was suspended on January 1, 2010, the training frontations with passengers, causing them to become verbally was well received by those who had taken it. or physically aggressive toward the operator. Therefore, the operators are now taught to let the rider know that he or she is aware of the situation, but are taught to avoid conflicts and Comments from Survey Respondents confrontations. A recommended phrase to address potential Listed below are some of the training-related comments fare evaders is "Excuse me, sir. The fare is _____." NYCT provided by survey respondents: operators are instructed to keep track of fare evaders, and if there is rampant fare evasion by multiple persons, the opera- · "We use every incident as a potential training opportu- tor would be expected to contact the Bus Command Center nity. In approximately half of all assaults, the operator through radio or silent alarm. If the same individual engages may have contributed to escalating a confrontation with in fare evasion multiple times, the operator is also expected the passenger." to report this to supervision. Operators are reminded not · "Prevention, for the most part, is in the control of the to take the bus out of service or argue with the passenger. Operator. Bus Operators prevent assaults on a daily basis. If, however, the operator believes he or she is threatened, Training is the only way to prepare an Operator for this he or she is taught to proceed to the nearest bus stop, open type of event. The Bus Operator must know when to `let the doors, and call the Command Center for assistance. Dur- it go' and report the situation to a Supervisor or Officer." ing training, bus operators are advised not to take personally · "I believe many assaults can be prevented if the opera- anything the customer says, even if he or she starts yelling tors had verbal skills to diffuse situations." insults or slurs. · One respondent provides a caveat about violence- prevention training: "After training all the Bus Oper- To assist operators in improving their handling of conflict ators in violence prevention, we realized that we were situations, operators participate in a conflict management having an increase in assaults by Operators on cus- program. The program participants learn about: tomers! We are still not sure why, and this is currently not a problem. Perhaps we somehow, in our efforts to · How to define and understand conflict; protect Operators, over-empowered them." · Identifying the major causes of conflict; · Identifying the difference between constructive and BEHAVIORAL ASSESSMENT TRAINING destructive conflict; · Recognizing the signs of conflict; and Security-related training has been encouraged at the federal · Assessing and evaluating personal conflict approach. level by the FTA and TSA and widely implemented by transit agencies since September 11, 2001. In addition to basic aware- Operators are taught about the different styles of dealing ness training that emphasizes the importance of observation with conflict--competing, accommodating, avoiding, collab- and reporting of suspicious activity, behavioral assessment orating, and compromising. Although collaborating (both the training may also be useful in addressing passenger assault of operator and passenger work together to find a solution to the bus operators. The University of Tennessee TO SPOT training problem at hand) may be an ideal technique for other situa- became available in February 2008 and, according to the Uni- tions, this can disrupt bus operations; therefore operators are versity of Tennessee Law Enforcement Innovation Center, taught to compromise, accommodate when necessary, and many employees of various agencies, including bus operators, to avoid conflict at all cost. Communication techniques have undergone training, although attendance information by are taught in a 1-h training module that was created in 2008. organization is not available. The participants are taught to As a supplement to their training, bus operators are provided identify and report suspicious individuals, which may help in with a comprehensive Guide to Customer Service. The the apprehension of criminals. Because liability issues (e.g., Guide covers bus security; all key aspects of bus operations, racial/ethnic profiling) and questions of effectiveness of the including fare evasion and customer service issues; and what techniques associated with use of behavioral assessment have to do in case of an emergency. been raised, consulting the transit agency's legal counsel is essential. TCRP Report 86, Volume 13, Public Transportation Passenger Security Inspections: A Guide for Policy Decision Makers contains a section discussing the legal implications of Coast Mountain Bus Company, behavioral assessment. British Columbia, Canada For operators involved in incidents, Coast Mountain bus oper- Advantages ators have been encouraged to attend a voluntary 2-day refresher course that includes a module on conflict resolution. · Short implementation time. The module includes a video with vignettes of various chal- · Availability of training.
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57 Disadvantages cious individuals is important and can mitigate operator assault, along with other crimes, by helping operators sharpen · Possibility of racial/ethnic profiling claims. their observational skills and identifying criminals and taking · Its effectiveness has been questioned. them out of the system. Agency Experience Pinellas Transit, St. Petersburg, Florida Hampton Roads Transit, Hampton Roads, Virginia Since February 2010, TO SPOT behavioral assessment train- Hampton Roads Transit provides behavioral recognition-type ing has been provided to new Pinellas Transit bus operators training to all of its bus operators. Because bus operators are by the University of Tennessee. Existing operators are also usually the first line of defense against criminals, Hampton being trained, and, currently about half of all operators have Roads Transit believes that training them to recognize suspi- been trained.