SMRT opens bus driver training centre
When Ms Tan Kwee Chu first joined SMRT five years ago, she was nervous about the training she had to undergo.
"I was really scared of getting into accidents, as the training required us to start driving on the roads immediately," said the 49-year-old bus captain, who did not have any bus-driving experience before joining SMRT.
From this month onwards, trainee bus drivers will have an easier time easing into their jobs than Ms Tan.
Yesterday, after nearly a year of planning, SMRT opened its first Bus Training and Evaluation Centre at Jurong East, designed to teach new bus captains the rigours of the job faster, and without the risk of any accidents.
SMRT hopes to put all its bus captains - an estimated 2,500 - through the training centre by next year.
The centre is equipped with eight full cabin simulators, eight bus simulator trainers, which cost an estimated $20 million, and two service control work stations, among other features.
Designed by ST Electronics, the simulators recreate the driving experiences for trainee captains using real-life images of local roads from a customised local terrain database.
The cabin simulators resemble the front portion of local buses, down to the size of the steering wheel, windows and side mirrors.
Within these cabins, drivers learn to tackle different road conditions and dangerous scenarios.
Simulator trainers, on the other hand, focus on helping drivers to get used to bus routes.
Previously, route familiarisation had to be carried out on the roads, which meant the driver had to return to the starting point to go through the route again.
Now, drivers can select portions of the route they want to familiarise themselves with or repeat the entire route again for practice with the punch of a button.
"The simulators provide new captains the closest experience of driving a bus outdoors," said chief bus captain Kwek Boon Chwee, 43. "This would enable them to build up their confidence before going onto the roads."
SMRT executive for training and development Lim See Teng said the scenarios provide for a very dynamic curriculum.
Said the 56-year-old: "By working closely with ST Electronics, we were able to generate different scenarios specifically tailored to each bus captain's needs.
"We give bus captains the opportunity to practise in situations that are otherwise hazardous to practice outside."
Current bus captains will also be trained at the centre to work closely with the bus service controllers, who are in charge of the management of buses on the road.
The bus service controllers monitor routes to ensure that there is no congestion between buses, and also manage any accidents or incidents that may arise."Previously, the bus captains were not be able to see the bus service controllers, who were based at Woodlands," said Mr Dong Yi Zhe, 28, a bus operation control centre executive.
"With the new centre, they will all be based at Jurong East where they will be able to meet the service controllers and foster a closer working community."
We give bus captains the opportunity to practise in situations that are otherwise hazardous to practice outside.
- Mr Lim See Teng, SMRT executive for training and development