First Bus announces new driver training programme

first_imgFirst Bus has announced details of a brand new, fully accredited driver training programme.Designed to give its bus drivers industry leading training with a focus on safety and customer service, First’s ‘Better Journeys for Life Driver Training Programme’ has been awarded the highly prestigious 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 is currently being rolled out to new First drivers in Bolton and Southampton. From this September, new drivers from other First depots will begin to receive the new and improved training.Some of the improvements include:The 25 day course will now include three days of intensive customer service training – a significant increase for First and thought to be the most comprehensive customer service training in the industryFirst has put in place a guarantee to ensure a minimum 2:1 driver/trainer ratio at all timesThe amount of time a driver spends behind the wheel in training has been increased by around 30%From a safety perspective, new drivers will undergo the Smith System Advanced Safe Driving course and will better learn how to manage security and conflict issuesDrivers will also perfect their ability to manoeuvre a bus on ‘skill stations’ in the depot before going out on the roadFirst’s focus on helping customers with disabilities will continue. Drivers will undergo specific training to ensure they are aware how to manage wheelchair users and will continue to benefit from modules showing drivers how to identify and help customers with sight loss or who may be suffering from dementiaIn 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 on-line application, featuring an on-line assessment, is designed to ensure candidates with a customer service and safety focus reach the interview stages.The overall programme, a 250k investment, was officially launched at First’s Bolton on 3July 3 and is the latest development from First in delivering its customer promise, ‘Better Journeys for Life’.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 became more customer focused and our new driver programme further underlines our commitment to our Better Journeys for Life customer promise.“We want to attract new people on to our buses and encourage infrequent bus users to travel with us more often. Across the UK we’re working hard to improve services as we aim for passenger growth, and of course we are seeing some really positive results. The Better Journeys for Life Driver Training Programme is great news for our customers, our drivers and for First Bus.”Linda Guthrie, First’s Head of Driver Training, said: “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 can drive a bus, or we can train to drive a bus.”Picture shows Giles Fearnley and Linda Guthrielast_img read more