Prioritise staff communications and effective operational team management, as this is vital for staff retention, staff morale, and delivery of customer-focussed service. Provide regular staff training courses for all employees.
As Public transport is being increasingly developed as a service rather than a product, the human element tends to come to the fore; after all, the wellbeing of employees affects the wellbeing of customers. Staff communications and effective operational teammanagementis especially important for bus operations.
Recruitment defines the selection process for new skilled workers (mostly drivers), and temporary employees. As there is a lack of specialist staff (especially drivers) in some countries the recruitment of capable candidates in the public transport sector is a challenge. A fundamental and essential phase for the success of a public transport provider is to recruit the right person, and the recruitment should ensure equal treatment of all applicants and take unbiased decisions. Nowadays the capability of a candidate is no longer assessed only by technical skills such as driving but principally by behavioural skills (being service-oriented, flexible, etc.)
Training policies are often expressed in financial terms but the level of investment does not always fully reflect the level of quality. All good professionals today can expect to dedicate at least part of their career to training (managers, maintenance workers, drivers, consultants, etc.). Also, the cost of training is relatively low in comparison with the total personnel costs.
Most companies have regular internal training programmes and traineeships for different kind of staff and management jobs (drivers, service staff, etc.). Training programmes have to be organised and conducted professionally and take place in appropriate facilities. The training can be done by
The operator (internal),
Specialist education and training companies
Customers form their perceptions from the interactions with the front-line people in the organisation (UITP 2005). In this context, the training of bus drivers becomes important. Besides basic training of bus drivers required by law several operators provide extra training for bus drivers:
Customer treatment and information,
Conflict management (behaviour and influencing behaviour, mental and physical resistance, diversity of passengers and respect),
Accessibility service for persons with disabilities.
An effective and economical method is ’train the trainer’ principle, where company specialists undergo intensive training with the system supplier and then pass on their own knowledge in training courses to the company’s other employees.
It is essential that employees can contribute to developing and sustaining, constantly, a shift from an ordinary public transport provider to a mobility service provider offering high-quality transport services. Active bidirectional communication instead of bare information transmission leads to a transfer of the company’s values and objectives. Good communication structures are therefore vital in achieving improvements and raising the standard of the quality of services. Listening to the staff and considering their needs, e.g. by regular meetings with drivers, helps to discover information about problems that might need to be resolved soon.
Closely related to the field of training, the certification of staff can support the achievement of high-quality public transport standards.
Managers and drivers should be positive about the delivered service (having a ‘pro public transport attitude’). One example which serves to improve identification with their own service is a high regular usage of the service by personnel themselves, and particularly by managers. Another way to improve identification of all staff with the delivered service is to involve managers in daily operation for a couple of working days a year (e.g. driving buses 1-2 days a year themselves, selling tickets at sales office, etc.). In 72% of the cities analysed by PROCEED the bus drivers receive special training or instructions regarding customer contacts.
Common certifications of employees in public transport are described in ► Background information: Certification of personnel.
To ensure lasting staff participation in a project, trust, respect and recognition of professional abilities and qualities is essential. Bearing this in mind, it is interesting to note that projects can happen within very different contexts but all generally need strong work recognition and a long-term vision to achieve their goals.
It is not always easy for the employees to adopt a customer-oriented behaviour since they are subjected to diverse stresses, including fatigue and security problems. In addition, it should not be forgotten that some disruptive passengers make it difficult for road-staff to maintain a professional attitude. It is therefore important to address at the same time the issues related to the quality of working conditions since customer satisfaction depends also on staff satisfaction (UITP 2002a). Ensuring a customer focus of drivers therefore requires permanent management of employees’ education, motivation and personal development.
Bregenz (Austria): The customer-friendly driver training consists of a brief guide to the city’s points of interest; how to help disabled people; how to operate electric ramps; first aid; safety and security aspects; and dealing with disruptive customers.
Brighton & Hove (UK): Management believes in riding the buses, seeing what goes on 'on the ground'. Senior management team members have a regular 3-hour 'walkabout' (at different times and network locations each week) to ride buses and to visit locations on the network where problems have been identified or improvements have been introduced. Some senior managers also drive buses for short periods on a regular basis, ensuring that they become familiar with problems faced by driving staff.
Chur (Switzerland): Drivers are trained in regular courses over 2-4 working days per year.
Donostia-San Sebastián (Spain): The transport operator’s staff members have the opportunity to attend special training sessions for about 8 days per year.
Graz (Austria): Drivers are trained in regular courses every 2-3 years.
Lausanne (Switzerland): The public operator in Lausanne has developed a project allowing drivers to set their own working hours. The result has been a 30 % increase in employee satisfaction and a 40 % reduction in absenteeism.
Ljubljana (Slovenia): All proposals and complaints that deal with driver behaviour are individually treated. The driver concerned is invited for a discussion, whereby the driver gives his statement. Every complainant receives a written or oral (phone) answer about the decision and action taken.
Schaffhausen/Neuhausen (Switzerland): Bus drivers can attend different seminars. Up to 8 days a year are provided for special training.
Sweden: In Sweden there is a concept called "driver certificate". It has been developed by the Swedish public transport association, and is used by many public transport authorities. The certificate can be gained if the driver has successfully passed a course and a test. The course consists of different elements such as customer treatment, driving behaviour, drugs and alcohol regulations, tariffs etc. (http://www.forarcertifiering.se).
UK: ROSCO (Road Operators' Safety Council, http://www.rosco.org.uk) has an award scheme for the best bus drivers in the UK, mostly for accidents and conviction-free yearly driving.
af Wåhlberg, Anders (2007) Long term effect of training in economical driving: Fuel consumption, accidents, driver behaviour and technical feedback. International Journal of Industrial Ergonomics 37 (2007), 333–343
Certifications of employees in the public transport industry are used in the following fields:
Certificate of Professional Competence (CPC): From September 2008 new drivers should have a Certificate of Professional Competence (CPC) linked to the EU directive 2003/59/CE).
Eco-driving can be called also environmental, defensive driving, where the acceleration behaviour of driver is geared to reducing fuel consumption (The result is that fuel consumption was reduced by 2% reduction because of driver training (af Wåhlberg 2007).
Customer-friendly driving means training the drivers in knowledge about points of interest, dealing with disabled, disruptive customers etc.
Health and safety certification: National medical laws and rules define preventative or periodical medical examination for new and existing employees in the workplace. National safety certifications are set in order to prevent employee injuries and pollution of the environment.
OHSAS 18001 is a specification for Occupational Health and Safety Management Systems and it certificates the health and safety aspects of business activities, while taking into careful consideration accident prevention, risk reduction and the well-being of employees.
"Ergonomic law": The so called “Ergonomic law” of the European Commission is in preparation. It will harmonise national safety certifications concerning ergonomics.
ISO 9241 - Ergonomic requirements for office work with visual display terminals covers a number of aspects for people working with computers
Human rights of workers:SA 8000 (Social Accountability) is a global standard to guarantee the basic rights of workers, social responsibility and provide health and safety work condition.
Maintenance, Cleaning, Management, Environment: Quality certification such as the ISO 9000 family standards affects the training of staff in order to achieve higher quality service.