Arriva driver team for Malta completes training course
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Eight Maltese bus driver instructors who are among the first employees to have been recruited by Arriva Malta, have received a framed certificate of recognition and Arriva driver trainer badge. The driver instructors have successfully gone through rigorous theory and practical training, and passed their driving instructor tests with Arriva’s driving instructor examiner Steve Roberts, who is accredited by the Driving Standards Agency in the UK.
Keith Bastow, Managing Director of Arriva Malta, who made the presentation this week, said he was genuinely proud of each and every one of the Maltese driver instructors who had achieved a tremendous amount in the past month since they started their training.
“Your task starts now with 700 drivers to train or retrain before 3 July, 2011, when Arriva Malta starts providing public transport services in Malta and Gozo,” Mr Bastow said. “This is a recognition of the effort you have put in and I am pleased that you are now fully fledged Arriva Malta driver instructors.”
In a reference to comments posted on various websites over the past few weeks, Mr Bastow continued: “You need to start proving that the bloggers are wrong and restore the pride of being a bus driver in Malta, capable of offering high levels of customer care and driving safely.” He also expressed his gratitude to the seven driver trainers who had been seconded from Arriva UK to do this initial training in Malta.
The theory part of the driver training included safety drills, and techniques in eco-driving – for the efficient and environmentally friendly use of fuel – and defensive driving. This was then put into practice in local driving conditions: on the open road and in town centres like Hamrun and Msida, including roundabout approach and how to stop safely on bus stops.
All the drivers said they found the training extremely useful because, although all of them have many years, even decades, of driving experience, they were given the opportunity to learn advanced driving techniques – the Arriva way – from supportive professional drivers.
Part of the safety drill includes checking their bus both inside and out at the start of the working day. “We were taught how to be aware of what is going on around us on the road in order to be safer and avoid accidents,” they explained
Although all neatly turned out, the driver instructors, Chris Aquilina, Ray Aquilina, Michel Abou Haider, Charlie Buttigieg, Ennio Farrugia, Mario Mifsud, Bartholomew Muscat and Joe Xuereb, are also looking forward to receiving their Arriva Malta uniforms. “The uniforms will enable us to show the new face of Maltese bus drivers and the professionalism we are determined to show every day on our routes,” they said.
They are enjoying a new-found team spirit which formerly as owner drivers many of them lacked. Word is also getting around to their former colleagues on the level of professionalism and the techniques they are learning, including customer services training, with these colleagues being largely supportive of this new development.
Given the technology on the buses, including CCTV cameras, the driver instructors also feel safe and in a better position to deal with customers and even situations like cars blocking bus stops, which will be caught on camera.
They look forward with optimism to the challenge of teaching prospective local bus drivers and eventually to giving their services on the road within a big company. “We are going to have to teach the theory and practice we have learned to drivers who may have been driving for longer than we have, but we are still confident that we are capable of doing it – the Arriva way,” they said.
When asked to describe “the Arriva way”, driving instructor trainer and examiner Steve Roberts said, “Bus driver instructors are trained to a very high standard for both driving and customer services, in line with the European syllabus for driver training. That for us is the Arriva way.”