Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Arriva Bus Driver Training information blog



As It is now 2014 I thought a quick Blog re fresh was in order, Thanks goes to Jim for header design. More job role information at the bottom of the page.

This Blog is to give some information about becoming a Bus driver for Arriva in London.

   
For the record I have had no experience of LGV driving and havent really had to take any form of test for the last 12 or so years.

So my application to Arriva was accepted, and a date was set for me to visit an assessment day at a London based Arriva office. The letter that I had been sent said I would have a Maths and english test and if successful I would be given a Driving assessment. I was warned to study up on the highway code as I can imagine they have a lot of people that turn up with a lack of preparation.

The day started with a quick sign in at the head office and a longish wait before being taken into the exam room. There where 7 of us that sat the exams the day I was there, we where all from different backgrounds and all ages most of us where nervous :-)

The exam is a paper format NOT computer based like I was expecting, the first section was the highway code test this was a two page paper that would show our basic knowledge of the highway code. YOU DO need to study for this part as there are around 40 questions (mainly) regarding road signs that you have to answer and even if you have been driving for years a refresher look and re-study of the road signs will be needed. A copy of the standard highway code with colour signs will do perfect, no need for DSA theory books for this...

There are also a few written questions such as. ( You are driving down a slip road joining a motorway, what should you do???) there are 3 options and you would answer using a X (maintain speed but giveway to traffic already on the motorway)

Next paper is the Maths and English.
First up is a quick message regarding a typical memo that would be given to drivers before a shift regarding some sort of change that has happened on there route, such as along Oxford street you will now have to use your lights between oxford circus and regents street on the contra flow bus lane.

The question may be (what do drivers need to have on when using the contra flow bus lane??) Answer {Lights}

Next up is a cartoon strip with a scenario and you have to write a flowing report of what you see as if you was one of the people in the picture.
This is a bit hit and miss and we was told people do fail on this part, it would really test you if you have a poor understanding on the english language so be warned if english isnt you first language take your time and re-read what you have written and make sure it makes sens.

Next up was the Maths section this was about 15 questions ranging in difficulty (Most) are very basic I.E you have a passenger that wants two 90p fares and one child fare at 40p please write what change she would get if she paid with a £5 note. There is a small area at the bottom so you can do some working out if needed.

OK so I passed this section. I have no idea how anyone else did on this as I was the first to get the call into the office after the exam, I was given a score and told I had been accepted for the driver assessment,
one thing I was told was that only 1 IN 6 people pass the next stage!! Yes 1/6 so there is a high fail rate! be warned.

Next day I was booked for the assessment, I was nervous as anyone would be but im quite confident in my driving skills so had the mind set of just driving as I did on my normal car test years ago and make sure I listened to the examiner.

The guy with me was really good, he reasurred me and gave me some tips before setting off. Again be warned they want a high standard of driving and I can see that they have a load of application's for these postions so they really can just pick the best of the best, I would say if your a bit nervous regarding your driving book a few hours with a driving instructor before your assessment. One thing is for sure your not going to BLAG this test.

So we was on the road for about 40mins the vehicle of choice was a Ford mini bus, we took in loads of tight small roads and a about 7 main roads. Roundabouts where thrown in for good measure, they are looking to see how well you steer the van and that your observations are done in the correct fashion and at the right time, you are told what is expected before you set off. I get the idea they are looking to see if you have potential as a bus driver not the your at the level to start working tomorrow so think of this as a pre training drive.

I made a few silly errors but my drive was solid enough that I was granted a pass. They do allow for a few errors just nothing really bad!!. Lucky though as im sure I was on the limit of being one of the 6 that doesnt make it!.

So there you go it is quite demanding if your not a natural driver and yes you should be driving like you would on your DVLA car test, take your time AND PREPARE for the assessment and you should be ok or atleast give yourself a fighting chance at getting through, one thing that helped me was when I was booked onto the assesment the day I passed my Maths and english exam I asked about possbile routes that I will go on for the drive. Info was forth coming and so a few days before the assesment I went out for a recce of the area and that helped me loads as I found out where most of the 20mph limits where and a few other "fail" spots.

UPDATE::::::::::
So after my assesment was complete it was then a few days wait for a interview with a manager, this if i'm honest I wasn't that concerned about as i'm good in interviews and always look at them like you will just have a chat. Anyway the day came and I went into the room with a older gentlemen and we sat down with my papers and I was asked a few simple questions, stuff like driving experience and conditions I had driven in. In my case I have a full motorcycle licence and have toured most of europe, I have also spent time in the third world so was use to way lower standards of driving than you would get in the UK. Then it was onto contract information regarding wages and hours, I also had to sign a declaration to say that after my training was finished I had a contract of 1 year that I had to stay with the company before I could leave, otherwise I was liable for part payment of my training fees to the sum of £2000. If im honest this is fair as they will be investing in me so only right they get there monies worth.

Another good note is that they pay you whilst your training to the sum of £220 a week this was a pleasent surprise and made leaving my old job very easy.

The last bit of the selection process was a medical.
Im fit and health so no real issues there, the exam took about 15 mins and was very basic no nakedness or probing so that was good, YOU DO have to give a urine sample!!! so dont do as I did and pee just before heading into the doctors office. I guess the sample is to see drug abuse or similar.

With that all done my licence was then sent off to the DVLA for the provisonal section to be added this took about 9 days to get back to me and I had to then call the head office to arrange a training start date, this I did and now I have a date to start.

BORED. So ive had a bit of time and after reading a few things online I started to get a bit nervy of the Hazard Perception test, The pass mark is 67/100 and Ive seen that a LOT of people are failing this!. If I remember I did ok on mine for my car and motorcycle but after doing a few free online ones and failing badly I started to panic, my Girlfriend suggested I have a look and see what the cost was for the HP test as its in two parts. You can do the HP test one day then the multiple choice another and pay for each as and when needed.
I looked around at test centres and was able to get a seating the next day (result), I thought to my self "stuff it" why not just get it out the way.
So £15 was paid to the DSA and in 10 hours I would have my HP test.

So ive sat the HP exam this morning and passed with a mark of 76 so im chuffed.. TOP TIP dont bother with the online rip off websites as there sofware is nothing like the real test just go along (I didnt even practice) sit down watch the explanation clip and do it, very straight forward no issues. (BUT A WASTE OF TIME FORSURE)
So next up is the Multiple choice test this I may even do myself and pay the £35 out of my own pocket just so its one less thing to worry about when the proper driving starts?? I haven't decided as of yet though so keep posted.

UPDATE::::::

So im a week into my training now and today was my first chance at getting behind the wheel of a Bus but a bit about that in a moment.

I've mainly this week been doing my BTEC training this is class room based with very minimal written paperwork and lots of discussion and listening from our tutors, it has been quite a good thing that i've done all this first as the next few weeks I can concentrate on driving.
The normal setup is to do classroom work and driving on alternate days during the week but due to my start date being near Christmas it has worked out a bit different for me.

So Ive had 5 classroom days and topics have been from Health and safety to discrimination in the work place and everything in between, during the discussion it shows that all of us are totally different in our approach to our new roles as bus drivers and im sure a few people in the group will have to have a mindset change if they are going to last in this type of job.

All in though we have all had some good banter and already helping each other out as a group, the tutors have been top notch and the way they teacher is perfect for a broad range of learning styles so no one really should have a problem.

Multiple Choice Exam::

So after passing my Hazard perception I only had my part 2 to fully complete this part of the training,
the task was 100 multiple choice questions and a bit of revision score needed 85/100.. WARNING I used the AA theory book for my revision and I would say that on my test about 20% of the questions are not in the AA book MAKE SURE you get a revision book that says DSA approved on the front.

But anyway with the right prep the AA book should still be fine but i am sure someone out there will have a issue on their exam because of questions not being in it. Anyway passed with 94/100 score.

I 'AM SOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO happy I did the Hazard part first as there are a number of people that are having issues with it,
so I would honestly say "get it done before your training starts", it has allowed me to train without the stress of this stupid test hanging over me and you can tell that a few of the girls and guys have pressure on them now to pass to allow them to move on with their training. AGAIN FORGET THE DVD JUST DO IT.

First drive, Bus type DLA Double decker...
Had a quick drive today as we where breaking up for Christmas so it was quite short but after a chat with a instructor I was in the seat doing a few basic things in the yard then it was out on the open road.

If im honest it is just like I thought it would be, getting used to the width and lenth will be the biggest learning curve but overall i'm happy with how I did.

Not much more to say really as I was only out for about 45 mins, but still good fun though.

Next up is the CPC Case study exam I will post up information on this when I do it and record what my practical training consists of.

UPDATE:::::

Well today was the day I had my CPC case study exam, I had purchased the DSA guide to buses and coaches and also bought the DSA CPC handbook DID ANY OF IT HELP?.

The exam is really a continuation to the PCV theory test, more than a few people in our training group failed their CPC exams and I had heard a lot saying that they had trouble relating the questions to the case studies that are shown.


I would say for a few questions they are right, my break down of the test would be that about 35 questions will be answered by your previous knowledge that you have obtained during your Theory test however there are questions that go a bit deeper into drivers hours and accident information etc so read the mundane small print type stuff in the books as they will have questions about it in the exam.

Most of the info you need is in the DSA books but for a few questions it was just an educated guess as to the correct answer as it did not relate to the case study or any info I had read in my prep work.

My exam started off bad with a few questions I had no idea about then it got a bit easier as the test went on, Anyway I passed with a score of 46/50 the pass mark is "40" they also say the test will take around 130mins I was in the room approx 20 mins even with all the DSA rubbish you have to read so not really a long test by any means.

Best advice I could give is read the DSA books making notes as you go, (I filled up 5 A4 pages with prep work putting down keys points) and then keep reading small sections at a time leading up to the exam.

Im not going to lie I was unsure if I had passed this test as on loads of questions you can give 2 correct answers when only one is correct but im happy to say I did. Most of the other students ive spoken to had only just scrapped a pass with scores of 40 or 41, this exam IS harder than the standard theory test and you will need to read as much resource information as you can to give yourself a decent chance of a good score.

I would say rather than doing stupid memory tests like these I would much rather get a chance on a skid pan and learn something that could really make a difference. But I dont make the rules the DSA do.

I have about 3 hours logged at the moment and everything is going ok apart from still brushing the odd curb here and there on tight turns, but there is still loads to do driving wise and I have my module 4 show and tell to complete in the near future.

UPDATE:::::

So im now about 3 weeks into my driver training and have logged approx 21 hours in my test book, I have just had my first progress check which is conducted by a senior training officer..
Its very much like how a test would be carried out and you are on the road taking direction for around an hour.

It all went well for me and i've been granted an extension with my training to 35 hours where you will have another progress check.

The overall view of my driving was said like this . Your over confident slow down a bit so you can better read situations as they happen and iron out a few other little things but I should be ok.

The word on the grapevine is that some students get the hairdrier treatment due to there driving at this stage so overall im happy and going to take his advice and put it to use ASAP.

Seems there is a massive gap in how many hours students are doing before test, average seems to be around 50+ but there are a few that past on 65+, my instructors aim for me is around 48 , one thing I cannot fault is the level of training, its very very high and im now starting to see that peoples misconceptions of bus drivers is ridiculous, the driving standard you need to reach is really high.

So far I i've really enjoyed my training I think a big part of this is my instructor and the other people that we are training with, most have bonded well and we all enjoy a bit of banter at our lunch stop's.

I would say my overview of being a bus driver at this stage is::

Its way more hard work than most people will ever know mentally, the level of driving they want is extremely high, definitely not for everyone in fact i've just found out the % of people that make it from first application to being qualified and doing the job is under 6% so that should tell you something.

Coming soon is (Module 4) Show and Tell...

Update::::

Module 4 Today..
Yep Today was the day I had my final test before the main PCV driving exam and it was Module 4 show and tell, Basic outline is that the examiner has approx 7-8 test questions that he could ask you with about 7 different variations on how he can word it, "hope that makes sense"

So out of all the possible question you have to answer 5, this isnt a quick recall of facts its very hands on with lots of small pieces of information and correct wording to remember.


My instructor has been pushing me to do really well in this as the examiner that does this section will also be the same examiner that is doing the driving test, if you come across knowlegable in module 4 it may give you a boost for the final test.

Its quite hard to write down how this section is done but one of the easier questions is something like ::: On this bus demonstrate how you would check all passenger seats for safety and comfort,
You have to start at the floor fixings and work your way up the seats talking about no sharp edges, secure cushions , no tears or something that will soil clothing etc etc etc. There are key words in your speech that have to be mentioned for you to get a pass, the scoring is set as 20 points per question with an instant fail on the complete test if you score below 15 on anyone question.

Time allowed for the exam is 45mins we had quite a good run and after about 20mins I was finished with all 5 and got a pass with 100% so can't moan, this was due to how good my instructor is if im honest and how he drilled all the information into me.

So onto the last bit now, ive completed about 33 hours and nearing test standard just need a few more very small tweeks and I will be booked on test within the next week or so...

::::UPDATE:::: MODULE 3 Practical Test

I had my Module 3 test yesterday THE BIG ONE, and yes it did go ahead even with the bad weather aka snow.

We had a very early start as I had a morning test so it was a 6am clock in at the training depot then a quick dash over to collect our DWL that had been serviced over the weekend.

This was good as it gave me a taste of driving at in the dark and I found this quite useful, we then went round a few possible test routes and had a look at a few sketchy places that I could fail on.

The test starts with the examiner asking you about 8 questions similar to module 3 just not as indepth, these ranged from emergency exit information to checking power steering etc etc not really hard with a bit of prep work leading up to your test.

But It is possible to start the test with 8 minors if you cant answer the questions, so 1 minor per wrong answer.

Sod's law the route we thought we may take wasn't the right one (typical) so I started the test going in totally the opposite direction to what we thought it may be.

There is about 8 possible test routes with any number of variations that the examiner can pick all with little section that can really catch you out.

So the drive was about 1 hour 20 mins plus a Reversing maneuver, It went quite well and having finished everything the examiner sat down and asked me a few questions on how I thought I did and what I needed to do in the future to improve, but the good thing is I passed with only 2 minors for the whole test!..

I was well chuffed but more for my instructor who really put in all the effort and hard work to get me to that standard from the start.

I've already been allocated a garage and now start type training, tickets and route knowledge ...

So thats it mission accomplished, all tests passed and a new career.

Only tips I can give anyone for there PCV test is dont think to much about what your doing by the time of your test it should all be all natural and flowing, dont be worried to ask people for advise as you can learn tons from their experience. The level of training that I have been given has been second to none but then the Module 3 test you will get from Arriva is far hard than a normal DSA test so the extra effort is needed for you to pass it believe me.

Buses used for training DLA and DWL 38
 


Please comment and keep visiting as I will be up dating this Blog with information in the future

PART 2 ::: having been in the job a while this is my thoughts after 5 months

UPDATE 18/12/12
I have added some detailed information regarding the IBUS system and ticket machine to the Blog listed below and for anyone interested to give it a look as it will offer a in site into how it all works.... 
http://beingalondonbusdriver.blogspot.co.uk/2012/06/london-bus-driver-truth.html


Link to Arriva for the Bus driver application form

Look down the page for the APPLY link
http://www.arrivalondon.com/driver/31/slug:Arriva-London-Bus-Driver

UPDATE January 2014..

Well when I started this blog I didn't think I would get anywhere near the views I have 30k as of this morning, it has also been good to bump into people that have read this and ended up getting past all the exams and on the road. Please keep posting up to date information in the comments sections if any information in this Blog has changed.. Regards comments it seems that after 200 odd that to see more you need to hit the "load more" at the bottom of this page, please bare that in mind as comments are always being added but will not show unless you load them.

NEW BORIS BUS JOBS..
The new Boris bus is now being put on many routes in London and they require passenger assistance to supervise the rear exit and entry door, you have to look hard to find the adverts for these positions but they are out there. Hourly rate is around 9-10 pounds a hour and from speaking with many of them its a really nice job to have. My advice would be to find out what route will be using the new bus and send a email to the HR of the operator asking when a recruitment drive will begin.

TFL Revenue protection Jobs (Ticket Inspectors)
TFL have a on going recruitment process for ticket inspectors and as of late 2013 they have been putting a application on the TFL job section of their website about every 16 weeks, I would say though it's a very very hard position to get into with numerous exams and assessments that are on going. starting pay is higher than the met police and final salary is 38K and increasing. As a RPI you do not just check tickets you will also be a supervisor on the Bus network and expected to do diversion duty and anything else that pops up that involves bus, it is this diversability in the role that requires such a high calibre of candidate.