First Bus announces new driver training programme

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First Bus has announced that trials of a new driver training programme have been successful and the programme is set to be rolled out across its UK operations.

First’s ‘Better Journeys for Life Driver Training Programme’ was trialled last year at depots in Bolton, Southampton and Essex and has already been awarded the City and Guilds accreditation, a first for the bus industry in the UK. The programme has also been endorsed by the Confederation of Passenger Transport (CPT) and will now be rolled out to new First drivers.

Some of the improvements include:

+The 20 day course now includes three days of intensive customer service training – a significant increase for First and thought to be the most comprehensive customer service training in the industry

+First has put in place a guarantee to ensure a minimum 2:1 driver/trainer ratio at all times

+The amount of time a driver spends behind the wheel in training has increased by around 30%

+From a safety perspective, new drivers undergo the Smith System Advanced Safe Driving course and better learn how to manage security and conflict issues

+Drivers will also perfect their ability to manoeuvre a bus on ‘skill stations’ in the depot before going out on the road

+First’s focus on helping customers with disabilities continues. Drivers undergo specific training to ensure they are aware how to manage wheelchair users and continue to benefit from modules showing drivers how to identify and help customers with sight loss or who may be suffering from dementia

+In addition First has invested in its training rooms and is providing its trainers with extra support and coaching as they prepare to roll out the new programme

First’s investment in its Better Journeys for Life Training Programme also complements a change of strategy in the recruitment of drivers. First is placing a greater emphasis on attracting new people with a background and/or passion for customer service that the company can train to drive buses. An online application, featuring an online assessment, is designed to ensure candidates with a customer service and safety focus reach the interview stages