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March 15, 2001
Unique course stresses safety, service
DART Bus Operators JUMP START their Driving Skills
Dallas Area Rapid Transit (DART) gives driving, safety and customer service skills a "JUMP START" with a one-of-a-kind training course for bus operators.
"To our knowledge we're the only transportation agency that has one like it, but we hope our program can be a benchmark for the industry," said Frank Jennings, DART transportation vice president.
JUMP START - which was named by DART bus operator Tom Proctor and stands for Join Us to Move People and Talk About Reviewing Training - is a mandatory, two-day retraining course focusing on defensive driving, bus operator rules and regulations and, most importantly, customer service. It also concentrates on such things as bus safety rules, the Americans with Disabilities Act, how to respond in emergency situations, and how to handle charters and special events. The course is essential for operators because it helps to refresh their driving skills and keeps them abreast of policy changes.
"JUMP START is great because it helps you to think better about the way you drive," said Milton Green, a DART bus operator for 21 years. "A fresh mind makes you more aware when
operating any vehicle, and this course makes sure operators are always up to speed on how to handle the bus and customers, regardless of how long they've been driving for DART."
Although JUMP START is mandatory, many drivers are drawn to the training course and actually look forward to revitalizing all of their skills.
"It is important to emphasize the use of proper safety measures and quality customer service when DART operators are trained on new buses or equipment," said Jennings. "This program highlights DART's commitment to providing a safe and pleasing experience for its customers."
JUMP START training is required every two years, and anywhere from 18-25 operators and supervisors are trained at once. Although there is a separate training course for supervisors, they are required to attend JUMP START to ensure they can relate to the drivers and their job responsibilities.
"I really appreciate this training because I haven't driven a bus in a while, and there are new policies and procedures that I didn't know about," said DART Transportation Supervisor Yulanda Gassaway. "All of the material covered since 1990 served as a great refresher for me, and I particularly enjoyed learning more about the way special events should be handled."
Upon completion of the two-day training, each attendee receives a certificate and must successfully pass a driving test - also known as a Ride Check - to gauge their ability to handle the bus. Operators and supervisors are rated on their appearance, use of proper signals, customer relations, ability to control wheelchair lifts and situational awareness, to name a few.
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