Wednesday, May 16, 2007

The Drivers: UTA's Ambassadors

Yesterday I took another journey through Salt Lake county on the UTA. Among the routes that I rode where the 11, 3, 50, 9, 10, 39, TRAX, 22, and the 24.

One of the things that has always bothered me about many bus drivers, while they may be friendly, they do a poor job of being Ambassadors for the transit authority. After all, they are probably the only UTA employees most people ever encounter unless someone goes into one of the UTA shops to buy a pass or something. So the drivers ARE the UTA.

One of the problems is the drivers attitude toward their customers. Many drivers have a disdain from the customers thinking they are all idiots and such and a major inconvenience (despite the fact that like any business, without the customer you don't have a job!). Having worked with customers for many years I know that sometimes you feel that they are pains in the ...., they are still customers and still needed to be treated with respect.

This comes especially true when people ask questions. As the UTA, the driver needs to have a working knowledge of the system to answer questions. I can name at least 5 times yesterday that the driver was asked a basic question and could not answer it or got agitated about the question being asked. The drivers need to remember that the person asking the question is from out of town or something and may be confused about the area. The more they help the better the UTA looks.

Once again though, if there is a problem with the employee management is to blame. If I have employee that is not giving good customer service I am to blame. I have not trained well, or I have not motivated right, but it comes down to the fact of management error. Maybe UTA needs to throw out its personality test that potential employees has to take because it doesn't work.

Then again we have another factor with drivers and thats the union. One of the reasons I am no fan of unions is that a union will protect bad employees. Instead of helping weed out the bad apples and keeping the best, unions will protect to the death any employee no matter how bad they are. There needs to be a change of attitude that allows for drivers with the right personality to be removed from the buses.

The drivers are representatives of the UTA and each one should be an ambassador for the system. After all, the better they are with the customers, the more likely people will be willing to ride the bus and the more buses UTA will need to put out on the road and in turn, the more drivers the UTA will need.

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