Waco Transit using new bus simulator to improve training program

Posted at 6:11 PM, Jan 03, 2018
and last updated 2018-01-03 19:24:19-05

Waco Transit is focused on making 2018 a safer year for all by improving its driver training program. A nearly half a million dollar piece of technology is helping the bus system do that.

Artha Redmond has been driving with Waco Transit for 16 years, but never quite like this.

"This has kind of put a focus right back on where it should be at and that's on safety," said Redmond.

Redmond is training on the new bus simulator that Waco Transit received a few months ago through a partnership with TxDOT.

It's now being used to train more than 130 employees. 

"We can simulate just about any type of inclement weather, especially like last Sunday, when you have precipitation and freezing weather. We can duplicate that," said Charles Parham, director of operations with Waco Transit.

The instructors pick the environment, distractions and road conditions, then it's up to the driver to make it through safely. There's even a camera inside the bus so the instructor can monitor the driver's every move and check their reactions to the simulations that are put in front of them.

"We have the responsibility of the people on board, but we also have the responsibility of the people that surround us as well," said Redmond.

"It's going to allow us to put our drivers in situations, real-world situations, where it's not going to cause any danger or injuries or any damage to our buses," said Parham.

Aside from saving money, Waco Transit is confident this tool will lead to better driver retention and fewer accidents.

"Safety is number one," said Parham. "We're in the people moving business and that's our priority each and every day."

All new hires and existing employees are required to go through this training, which will make them better prepared to handle whatever 2018 has in store.

"It's unique, it's unique. You get a chance to help people," said Redmond. "It makes me feel good to know that I'm helping someone in some type of way."

Allen Hunter, the general manager of Waco Transit, hopes to open the bus simulator up to other city departments in the future. He said it can also be used to practice driving school buses, ambulances and police cars. 

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