First announces new bus driver training programme

26 June 2015  •  Author(s): Katie Sadler, Digital Content Producer, Eurotransport

A new bus driver training programme has been launched by First Bus following successful trials focusing on safety and customer service.

First announces new bus driver training programme

Managing Director of First Bus, Giles Fearnley, and Linda Guthrie, First’s Head of Driver Training

The ‘Better Journeys for Life Driver Training Programme’ underwent successful trials in 2014 at First depots in Bolton, Southampton and Essex.  The programme, awarded City and Guilds accreditation and endorsed by the Confederation of Passenger Transport (CPT), will now be rolled out across UK operations.

The course, comprising of 20 days, now includes three days of intensive customer service training and a 30 percent increase in training behind the wheel. Drivers will now undergo the Smith System Advanced Safe Driving course and perfect their ability to manoeuvre a bus on ‘skill stations’ in the depot before going out on the road. The change of syllabus also includes First’s focus on helping customers with disabilities. 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.  

The recruitment programme has also changed placing emphasis on attracting people with backgrounds or interests in customer service.

First announces new bus driver training programme

Giles Fearnley and Linda Guthrie with some of First’s training staff.

Managing Director of First Bus, Giles Fearnley, said: “Our drivers play a vital role in attracting and retaining our customers. They are our ambassadors and therefore we must ensure they have the right training and the best training.

“I’m therefore proud and delighted to launch our own bespoke training programme, especially as we’ve secured the much sought after City and Guilds accreditation.  Our programme, which is designed to meet the specific needs of our business, places our driver training at the forefront of the bus industry and lays the foundations for further progress. We recognise that the bus sector must become more customer focused and our new driver programme further underlines our commitment to our Better Journeys for Life customer promise.”

Linda Guthrie, First’s Head of Driver Training, added: “The most striking difference to our new driver training programme is the focus on customer service.  It achieves the right balance between the importance of being a good, safe and reliable driver and an outstanding customer service agent.

“The focus on customer service is at the heart of our training and development agenda.  Our new training programme is a significant and exciting step forward, as is the strategic shift in our recruitment strategy.  We’re no longer simply looking for bus drivers – we’re looking for customer service agents that we can train to drive a bus.”

European Bus Forum

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