Intense training underway for METRO drivers before new routes roll out

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Rebecca Spera got a turn at the wheel to see the training drivers go through (KTRK)

We're about a month away from METRO's New Bus Network, and bus operators are right in the middle of intense training to get ready for the new routes.

"The system has been in place since 1978, and we had a half a million people connected to half a million jobs. The big deal is we are now connecting one million people to one million jobs," says Santiago Osoria, Director of Service Operations at METRO.

Coming up with the ideal network took some trial and error.

"We drove every single route. Over 80 changes on the new system," Osorio adds.

Since June, the new routes are in place, and the bus operators are in school.

"We have 141 new operators in training, and we have to train all 1500 of them with the new routes we have."

These students spent 32 to 40 hours in this intense training by 26 different METRO instructors.

"We've been spending a lot of time in the classroom. We've been taking quizzes. We review quite a bit," explains Bus Operator Diana Waters.

Besides classroom time, operators take a simulator test where teachers observe their every detail of their driving techniques, from looking into mirrors, giving enough space for turns, and braking properly.

After the simulator, drivers get behind the real wheel and hit the road.

"We're taking operators out on each route we're training on," says trainer Ralph Sapulveda.

The goal is for operators to become acquainted with the routes, new landmarks, and bus transfer locations.

Sapulveda adds, it's going well. "They're ready. They're excited to get it started because we know there will be a lot of questions when they get started!"

The new METRO Bus Network starts August 16.
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