The Accessible Services sector has the unique responsibility of providing its passengers with door-to-door service. They must also become familiar with the location of access points? For example, is there good vehicle and passenger access, is the footing safe, etc. A Bus Operator must also be able to safely and appropriately assist a passenger to approach and board the vehicle as well as to exit the vehicle and safely reach their home entrance.
"So, am I to assume there is physical contact with the passenger?"
"Yes, when it is appropriate. There can be a lot assistance required on porch steps and actually helping to get the person through the door and into their home safely."
Because accessible services provide door-to-door service, operators must take more care with boarding and exiting. They must judge the safety of the passenger's path from the residence to the vehicle when they escort them back and forth. They must secure passengers and wheelchairs with straps, seat belts, etc. as passengers are never allowed to secure themselves. They must operate lifts and they must constantly judge the level of service needed.
"Does the Attendant not do this too?"
"There will often be an Attendant present but it is the responsibility of the Operator to communicate directly with the passenger and ensure absolute safety at all times."
Importantly, the Operator must be familiar with the different types of disabilities, be able to recognize them, and be able to discuss each passenger's needs with them and/or their attendant. The Operator must stay alert for potential hazards such as uneven ground and/or pavement, large crowds, ice, etc. Discerning and managing passenger needs may often rely on the ability to interpret non-verbal signals. Many will have a limited ability to speak. An Operator will find that the use of eye contact will help to build bonds with passengers since they are more confident that you are listening and understanding.
Operators need to be sensitive to the difficulties individual passengers might have, and empathetic and compassionate toward the passenger. They need to see the person first and the disability second. This means allowing maximum dignity to the passenger.
"This is sounding like a lot of information; a bit overwhelming for someone working alone; and in a very rural part of the province."
"And that is very true. However, each Accessible Service provider has a manual of the organization's policies and procedures. They are very comprehensive; and, together with some very detailed training, they are an essential resource, giving Bus Operators valuable direction and support.
Bus Operators must be familiar with employer policies procedures and comply with the direction they provide for the performance of their responsibilities. A manual will typically include both technical and functional information about e.g. mobility aids, mobility device handling techniques. The Bus Operator must have the ability to recognize hazards to the safe usage of mobility aides and devices e.g. degree of ramp slope, condition of sidewalk, weather, etc."
"It must be this thick."
"Yes it is."