“Having been a Coach Operator, I understand what’s it like to be out there every day as a driver. And as a former Coach Operator Instructor, I know how to teach and evaluate students to help them succeed. I guess you could say I’ve been on both sides of the table.
“In some ways it allows me to approach things with a fresher perspective. For a lot of our seasoned trainers, it’s been 10 or 12 years since they were coach operators. A lot has changed since then–especially in technology–and that brings new challenges.
“Take cell phones, for example. Before, people would just pay their fare and find a seat. Now you have passengers who are talking on the phone or trying to text while they are at the farebox. A action that normally takes seconds now can take minutes while they fumble for their fare. It slows down the line of people waiting to board and can put you behind schedule. Sometimes it’s a doctor call or something that can’t be helped. It’s important for our coach operators to know how to politely handle that situation. It could be as simple as asking the person to step aside or take a seat while the other passengers board, then come up and pay their fare once they have their money or pass ready for the farebox.
“Controlling a coach and becoming familiar with the different quirks of each vehicle is relatively easy. Learning to manage passengers is a skill that can take a lifetime to master.
“As a training instructor, I want to keep classes interesting and applicable to situations coach operators will run into on a regular basis. There’s a lot of material they have to absorb and skills they must become proficient in. My job is to help them succeed. Part of the reason I wanted to become a trainer was so that I could help make a difference in other people’s lives.
“I guess the most surprising moment for me so far was when a class I had been working with graduated. I was sending them on their way out the door, when one of them turned around and asked if they could hug me. I laughed and said sure. One by one they each came up and gave me a big hug. It still makes me blush, but it showed me that they appreciated my part in their training. It was a very humbling and unexpected experience.”