A Qualitative Analysis of Bus Simulator Training on Transit Incidents – A Case Study in Florida

(Center Identification Number: 77701)

The objective of this research project will be to study the impact that the use of simulator training has on transit incidents. The specific geographical focus will be on Florida’s public transit agencies. The specific research objectives are: provide a brief history of simulator training in the transit industry as well as other industries, provide a summary of how simulators are being incorporated into the training curriculum at Florida’s transit properties, analyze, track and trend incident data pre- and post- simulator procurement, identify the impacts that the use of simulator training had on incidents, and measure those impacts.

Co-Principal Investigators:

Amber Reep, Senior Research Associate
Phone: (813) 974-9823

Lisa Staes, Senior Research Associate
Phone: (813) 974-9787



Center for Urban Transportation Research

University of South Florida

Fax: 813-974-5168





External Project Contact:     


Elizabeth Stutts

Grant Program Administrator

Florida Department of Transportation


E-Mail: elizabeth.stutts@dot.state.fl.us


I.  Project Objective/Problem Statement

Technology and need-driven, computer generated simulation training tools have been used widely for many years. Historically this technology was predominantly utilized for the military and aviation related training applications. As computer generated simulation technologies became more readily available and the understanding of computer system theory and cybernetics used to operate simulation more understood, the use became more prevalent. Now this technology is used to provide training in many applications and environments from police, fire and emergency medical vehicle driver training to private industrial applications, including large machinery operation and truck operator training. Computer-based simulator training is used to model real-life or hypothetical situations so that students can learn from their actions and reactions in a virtual reality.

While the use of this technology continues to grow, there are still those who debate the existence of measurable benefits to their use, particularly when compared to the capital costs associated with the procurement of these systems. There is no consistent refutable evidence that the cost/benefit ratio supports their purchase and application. However, qualitative input from agencies that have used these technologies does lend itself to support the application.

Beyond the use of the systems to train vehicle operators, simulators have other uses. Performance optimization (as it relates to system safety, vehicle engineering, testing, and remedial training) and the ability to conduct functional assessments are also of significance. In 2001, the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) and the Center for Urban Transportation Research (CUTR) began to work with transit properties throughout the United States to investigate the feasibility, functionality, and cost-benefits of implementing training simulators throughout Florida.

As a result of this effort, a simulator training model was developed which focused on a regional approach to simulator training and utilization. However, early in the development stages of a regional simulator program, funding stymied the project development, although interest and need continued to grow. Following that interest, several transit properties throughout Florida developed innovative funding which afforded them the opportunity to purchase simulators. By July 2007, several of Florida’s transit properties were in the initial stages of purchasing, installing and implementing simulator training into their new operator training program as well as refresher and remedial operator training programs.

However, an important question still remains unanswered—what kind of measurable impact, if any, will simulators have on bus incidents?

II.  Objectives/Tasks

The objective of this research project will be to study the impact that the use of simulator training has on transit incidents. The specific geographical focus will be on Florida’s public transit agencies. The specific research objectives are:

• Provide a brief history of simulator training in the transit industry as well as other industries

• Provide a summary of how simulators are being incorporated into the training curriculum at Florida’s transit properties

• Analyze, track and trend incident data pre- and post- simulator procurement

• Identify the impacts that the use of simulator training had on incidents

• Measure those impacts.

To achieve these objectives, the following research tasks have been identified:

Task 1 Incident Data Collection & Analysis This task will include a series of coordination efforts to identify and contact transit properties throughout Florida who currently utilizing transit operator simulators. This coordination effort will include obtaining commitment from these agencies to work with project researchers to allow for on-site visits, make observations, and collect historical accident/incident data. (The definition of an accident/incident will follow the definition that each transit system utilized in their operational policies and procedures manual).

Task 2 Simulator Training Data Collection & Analysis Utilizing and building upon an already established Microsoft Access database developed through another National Center for Transit Research (NCTR) project, researchers will collect information on accident/incidents at transit properties that have implemented simulator training. This data will be inputted into the Bus Incident Database for analysis.

Specific attention will be focused on quantifying the following:

• the key components, elements and factors of accidents/ incidents

 • the affects of simulator training on the frequency and severity accidents/incident (i.e., fewer chargeable accidents, decrease in remedial training and long term benefits such as lower insurance premiums and loss reduction and prevention)

 • the resultant changes and benefits of simulator training.

Task 3 Final Report The final task of the research will be the development of the Final Report entitled “A Qualitative Analysis of Bus Simulators on Transit Incidents—A Case Study in Florida.” The Final Report will summarize the results of the each of the previous tasks. The report will be designed in a clear, concise summary format that will facilitate easy reading and application by public transit provider professionals.

III. Deliverables

Progress Reports The University will submit quarterly progress reports to the Research Center. The first report will cover the activity that occurred in the 90 days following the issuance of the Task Work Order.

Reports will be submitted within 30 days of the end of the reporting period. Reports will be submitted even if little or no progress has occurred (in which case, the report should explain delays and/or lack of progress). Progress reports will be sent in MS Word to Sandra Bell, sandra.bell@dot.state.fl.us.

Progress reports will include the following information:

1. Contract Number, Task Work Order Number, and Title

2. Work performed during the period being reported

3. Work to be performed in the following period

4. Anticipated modifications (i.e., to funding, schedule, or scope). This section is for reporting/informational purposes, not for officially requesting an amendment. If requesting an amendment to a contract, the University will provide the project manager with the appropriate information (i.e., what is being requested with justification) in the required format.

5. A Progress Schedule (figures A, B, and C) updated to reflect activities for the period being reported.

6 It is understood that failure to submit progress reports in a timely manner may result in termination of the work order.

Draft Final Reports The draft final report will be submitted to Sandra Bell, sandra.bell@dot.state.fl.us. It will be edited for technical accuracy, grammar, clarity, organization, and format prior to submission to the Department for technical approval.

Final Reports Once the draft final report has been approved, the University will prepare the final report. The University will deliver a minimum eight (8) copies of the final report in MS Word on CD and one (1) unbound original, no later than the end date of the task work order, to:

The Florida Department of Transportation Research Center,

MS 30 605 Suwannee Street

Tallahassee, FL 32399-0450

Each copy will be provided on a CD or DVD (i.e., for a total of eight disks). If the project manager requires additional copies, such provision will be indicated in the scope. The project manager will review the final report to insure that all issues identified for correction in the draft final report have been addressed.

Project Kickoff Meeting A kickoff meeting shall be scheduled to occur before any work begins. As a minimum, the project manager and the principal investigator will attend. The Research Center staff will be advised of the meeting and given the option to attend. Other parties may be invited, as appropriate. The subject of the meeting will be to review and discuss the project’s tasks, schedule, milestones, deliverables, reporting requirements, and deployment plan. 

IV.  Project Schedule

It is anticipated that the project will be completed within 36 months.

Start Date: April 2009               Expected End Date: April 2012

V.  Project Budget

 Total Project Cost     $75,000

VI. Equipment

No equipment will be purchased under this project.

VII. Travel

Travel related to this project will include visits to transit systems that are utilizing transit simulators in their operator training program. Site visits will be conducted to collect data. Prior to making visits, the Principal Investigators will contact the FDOT Project Manager to obtain written approval for the visits.

A copy of the written approval will be forward to Sandra Bell at Sandra.bell@dot.state.fl.us . All travel shall be in accordance with Section 112.061, Florida Statutes. FDOT employees may not travel on research contracts.

VIII. Project Certification

The Sponsored Research office or appropriate authority will submit as a final deliverable a project certification prepared according to University compliance standards.

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