GRTC has new tool to test drivers before they hit the roadways

By Rachel DePompa - bio | email
Posted by Terry Alexander - email

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) – GRTC has a new tool will test all drivers before they get behind the wheel. It's a state of the art, virtual, training simulator. The machine is an exact replica of a GRTC bus.

"This is about as real as you get without being on the roadway," said GRTC CEO John Lewis.

It's the newest technology in the transportation world, and it's GRTC'S new way of training drivers.

"It allows us to mimic real life scenarios and situations. That an operator's going to face on a daily basis. Without the drama or possibility of actually having physical accidents," said GRTC Training Manager Mark Carter.

It's almost like driving a real bus, but this simulator allows for mistakes.

"This gives us an opportunity to put an operator through many different scenarios: rain, snow, sleet or shine. To really give them an opportunity to make mistakes and then rewind it, go back and making it a teaching moment," said Lewis.

Rookies get regular run-throughs during their 6 to 8 weeks of training. Veterans take a drive on the simulator once every two years.

"Every second that you spend in some way shape or form giving additional training is going to help prepare the operator for what they're dealing with out on the street," said Carter.

The simulator cost $450,000 and was paid for with federal grants when GRTC moved into its new building.

"Our goal is to put the best product on the street that we can and a simulator is just the next step in doing that or allowing us to be able to do that," said Carter.

About 20 percent of GRTC's operators have already been through this training program. The leaders hope to have all 380 drivers run through this program by the end of the year.

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