It’s called the “MB-2000”. A fitting name for its futuristic nature of putting you “in the driver’s seat” literally. The latest tool VTA is using to help bus drivers sharpen their skills to maneuver through the various pitfalls and risks of the open road, is a simulated bus apparatus that mimics anything and everything a driver might encounter in the real world.
At a price tag of $416,000, funded by a federal grant made possible by Mission College through VTA/ATU Joint Workforce Investment, this high-tech training aid will not only enhance the experience of new bus operators, but will help retrain veteran operators as well. VTA is the first agency in the world to purchase this “latest and greatest” version of a simulator, although other agencies use similar tools. With this simulator you’re tucked away in a safe simulation cabin, but the illusion is eerily real.
The MB 2000 gives VTA trainers the “ability to build scenarios and challenges for the operators in a safe environment where mistakes can be discussed and better decisions can be made,” said Maurice Beard, VTA Technical Training Supervisor and part of the team that will oversee the simulator use.
The simulator can be programmed for different weather conditions, road surfaces, low-hanging underpasses, pedestrians, cyclists, etc. Everything that an operator might encounter in the course of their job. However, Beard warns, nothing truly takes the place of the real thing.
“It’s important to understand that this is an enhancement, not a replacement,” said Beard. “The look and feel of operating a coach is very real. The sight lines, mirrors, loading passengers, lift use, etc. They’re all there. But it cannot fully replace the learning our students get on the road.”
VTA’s technical training department is excited about this new tool and looking forward to learning about all it can do.