Florida Small and Rural Transit Agency Bus Operator Training Program

Released September 2018 | Updated April 2023

The Center for Urban Transportation Research (CUTR) at the University of South Florida was directed by the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) to develop a model Bus Operator Training Program for use by Florida’s small and rural transit agencies.

As part of the process, CUTR cataloged, reviewed, and summarized the current small bus operator training resources available from sources such as the Transportation Safety Institute (TSI), the National Rural Transit Assistance Program (RTAP), the National Transit Institute (NTI), the Community Transportation Association of America (CTAA), CUTR, and other university training programs, with the intent of identifying appropriate resources and determining their potential application and use in Florida’s rural and small transit agencies’ bus operator training programs.

Emphasis was placed on the requirements of Rule Chapter 14-90, Florida Administrative Code (FAC), but the curriculum was developed to also include, but not be limited to ADA regulations, driver orientation, bloodborne pathogens, wireless communication devices, communications (including radio use), customer service, de-escalation, defensive driving, disability etiquette, driving in adverse conditions, drug and alcohol and/or a drug free workplace, fitness for duty, maneuvering a vehicle, operator and passenger seat belt use, pre- and post-trip inspections, safe boarding and alighting of passengers, securement, transit safety and security, vehicle familiarization, vehicle equipment, and other areas determined to be necessary.

It should be noted that “5310 Only” agencies must adhere to the requirements of the State Management Plan (SMP). A list of training requirements that is part of the SMP and the training program that is available to meet each area is provided on page 18 of the instructor’s manual.

The specific training requirements from the SMP include these topics:

  • Vehicle equipment and familiarization
  • Vehicle and equipment inspections
  • Basic vehicle operations and maneuvering
  • Boarding and alighting
  • Operation of wheelchair lifts and other special equipment
  • Passenger assistance and securement
  • Defensive driving
  • Distracted driving
  • Handling of emergencies
  • Wireless communication

Recognizing that agencies have their own specific policies and procedures, the curriculum was developed to allow agency operations and training personnel to insert locally specific training into the content. This locally developed content could include, but not be limited to manifests, route orientation/maneuverings, and communication methods.

Minimum suggested bus operator core training elements for the Florida Small and Rural Transit Agency Bus Operator Training Program have been identified with recommended length of training to be provided by core topic. Existing training resources will be identified, noting how to access the training material, and how to deliver the training (e.g., instructor-led, computer-based training (CBT), webinars, and etc.).

Download Instructor’s Guide Download the Entire Training Program (967MB)

If you need assistance utilizing or accessing the Florida Small and Rural Transit Agency Bus Operator Training Program, please contact the Florida RTAP Project team, Stephanie Lewis, zavacki@usf.edu or Roberta Yegidis, ryegidis@usf.edu.