In a collaboration between Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority (VTA) and Mission College in Santa Clara, the two entities launched the first in the nation, a high tech training tool for coach operators.
Built by FAAC and housed at VTA's training facility at the Chaboya Yard in San Jose, the 340-degree bus simulator allows Mission College students in VTA's coach operator apprenticeship program to experience real-life training exercises. They not only see what is in front of them, in a simulation, but also what is behind them in a virtual bus.
The simulator helps operators with judgment and decision marking, ultimately to reduce collisions. It allows students to take control of the situation, correct their mistakes without the penalty of real-world obstacles, and watch the video later to improve on their driving. The simulator can also simulate a variety of weather patterns and mechanical failures.
Prior, students would be with a training operator, on a bus and the trainer would take over control of the bus. This simulator allows for a true self-learning simulation environment.
The nine-week program is a part of the joint apprenticeship program at Mission College. Of the 300 students who completed the program, a majority of them also received college credit. The pass rate for operators is an incredible 90 percent.
The $460,000 federal grant-funded, high-tech training aid will not only enhance the experience of new bus operators but will help retrain the veterans as well. The grant was awarded through the VTA/ Amalgamated Transit Union (ATU) Joint Workforce Investment program and the federal American Apprenticeship Initiative.
VTA's JWI model takes a shepherding approach to learning, allowing students to achieve tremendous success with the program.