Customer Q&A with Peterborough Transit

About: Peterborough Transit is the public transport operator for the City of Peterborough in Ontario, Canada with a population of more than 81,000. Peterborough Transit has a team of 89 full-time and 22 part-time bus operators covering regular transit and paratransit routes.

What problems, issues, or needs led you to engage TAPTCO?

When I arrived here in August 2017, we had no designated training instructor or formal training program. Our drivers came to us with the appropriate certifications and designations already in place, but we needed to formalize our approach to risk management and reduce the number of preventable accidents. Our training materials consisted of a binder of papers on different subjects with no mechanism for tracking employee progress. We needed something structured with good visual aids that we could augment with our own localized information over time.

What made you choose TAPTCO? What made their services stand out from others?

I had used TAPTCO training materials in my previous job and was very familiar with how effective good training materials can be. TAPTCO programs are so easy to use that instructors do not need previous training experience. The books are very self-explanatory and the DVDs make the course easy for instructors to administer and for students to follow along. The content is high quality and always very responsive to changes in the industry. 

Keeping accurate records of training is key to managing preventable accidents. TAPTCO has operator Performance Checklists contained in their materials so if a preventable accident does occur, we can pull those documents and revisit the key learning points with the operator involved. This puts control back in the manager’s hands. Adhering to safety guidelines makes the operator’s job easier and prevents accidents.

What have the implementation phase and ongoing relationship been like?

Ordering the TAPTCO program was easy, delivery was quick and our implementation was flawless. When the training materials arrived, we simply assigned an instructor and succeeded in completing our first series of three-hour seminars on intersection awareness that touched 86 employees in two and a half weeks. We followed up eight months later with a two-day refresher course. 

We pull our operators off the road for training, so we need those programs to be engaging and effective. When you can present them with professional programs featuring real-life situations they can relate to, they value it and buy into the program. Once you have them hooked the instructor’s job is easy.

What have been the greatest benefits of working with TAPTCO?

TAPCO understands what is needed to prevent accidents. Every small- to medium-sized transportation organization should have TAPTCO programs in their training portfolio. Only very large organizations can afford to hire the curriculum experts, writers, graphic artists and video crews needed to produce training materials of this quality. They use real scenarios and have great computer graphics that smaller agencies can’t afford to develop on their own. In addition, TAPTCO programs cover subjects like fatigue awareness and sexual harassment that could easily be missed by small organizations in their homegrown programs. They also provide great tracking forms because they understand that we need to prove that we covered key topics.

Can you share specifically how TAPTCO helped you reach your goals?

The preventable accident rate is a very important safety KPI for any fleet manager. When I started working at Peterborough Transit in 2017, we had a preventable accident rate of 2.0 per 100,000 kilometers. We introduced the TAPTCO program with intersection awareness training in the winter and followed up with refresher safety training in the summer, which included classroom and on-the-road instruction. As a result, we had zero preventable accidents for the months of July and August and our preventable accident rate for 2018 is down to 1.2. Our operators are definitely more aware of their surroundings and we plan to continue with regular TAPTCO training for all employees.

The impact of reducing preventable accidents cannot be overstated, in terms of both safety and dollars. Payouts for accident claims can cost companies millions of dollars, while the costs of annual training and refresher courses are very budget-friendly. We drive 3.7 million kilometers a year, so the impact of reducing our preventable accident rate to 1.2 from 2.0 per 100,000 kilometers is significant.

How is TAPTCO aligned with the values that drive your business?

In transit, we only have a couple of key things to offer – Safety and Service. We’re here to get customers from point A to point B and to do so safely and on-time. We have to reduce risk and give customers the best service possible within our budget. We do that by providing our operators with the best training available. TAPTCO reflects our values of Safety and Service in their relevant and professional training materials, presented in terms our operators can understand.

What surprised you or pleased you the most about working with TAPTCO?

The computer graphics used to convey key scenarios and safety messages are so well done that they easily stimulate discussion. After each segment, the program pauses to allow conversation about specific risks in our local environment and how to minimize them. That’s fantastic because at that point TAPTCO becomes part of our hometown and creates the aha moments that really make a difference in operator behavior.

You simply can’t get better value for the money! Keeping our training costs reasonable keeps the City Hall finance team happy. The cost of the training I did this past year comes to about $60 per operator, which is only 30 to 40 percent of what I spend on a uniform for each driver. Think of it this way – I got an entire training program for the cost of a couple extra pairs of pants. Dressing them up has no value if we can’t keep them safe.

Would you recommend TAPTCO to others? What positive benefits would you emphasize?

Absolutely! The benefits of TAPTCO training materials are quickly realized. The student handbooks and the Performance Checklists are probably the best parts of the program. Really good trainers are hard to find and you don’t often find candidates with curriculum development on their resumes. These products give trainers professional materials so they can hit the ground running. Partnering with TAPTCO is like having a professional by your side to encourage you every day and in every lesson plan to explore new avenues of driver development. Many big city transit organizations have curriculum development positions on their teams but the rest of us would have to wing it without TAPTCO.

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