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The TEEX School Bus Driver Train-the-Trainer Program has shortened its name and expanded its mission.

The highly successful program, which was started in 1995 to improve school bus driver safety training in the state, has changed its name to the Pupil and Public Transportation Program.

The new name encompasses the new mission of the program, which now includes school bus driver workforce training through the Texas Workforce Commission and a new initiative in partnership with the Texas Department of Transportation’s Rural Transit Assistance Program to train rural and urban transit bus drivers and instructors.

Since its inception, the program, which is a part of the Engineering, Utilities and Public Works Training Institute, has trained 720 trainers from 236 Texas school districts. Approximately 23 percent of school districts in Texas have participated in the program, but project manager Scott Hurst wants to reach the other 77 percent. He plans to offer the School Bus Driver Train-the-Trainer Program more often and at more locations during 2002.

The newest initiative will transfer many of the successful techniques used in the behind-the-wheel school bus driver training to those who train public transit drivers. Public transit drivers typically do not get comprehensive, behind-the-wheel training, which is a major focus of the TEEX program, Hurst said. In the TEEX course, 65 percent of the class time is spent on behind-the-wheel lessons in such procedures as precision backing and turning, parallel parking and emergency tactics.

“The training that we do for school bus driver trainers and supervisors can also apply to those who train transit bus drivers,” Hurst said. “When we began sharing resources, we discovered that both groups deal with many of the same issues and have the same training needs. Through our collaboration with TxDOT, we are now receiving national exposure for this new program.”

In May, TEEX will present special workshops and a behind-the-wheel training course in Austin in conjunction with the Community Transportation EXPO 2002, the national conference of the Community Transportation Association of America.

“With our participation in this national conference, the state of Texas will be attempting to standardize behind the wheel, hands-on training for public transit bus drivers and those who train them,” Hurst said. The TEEX training course will be sponsored by the TxDOT Rural Transit Assistance Program. It will be coordinated by Vicki Vitek with TxDOT’s Public Transportation Division.

Other training to be offered by the Pupil and Public Transportation Program includes training for adult school crossing guards and bus attendant instructor training. Bus attendant training is becoming more important in order for school districts to meet new federal standards for transporting Head Start students, Hurst said.

The program also sponsors the annual Director’s Pupil Transportation Workshop in conjunction with the Texas Department of Transportation, which is set for Feb. 9-10, 2001.

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