Results from Atkins and Royal Borough of Kingston Consultation Event, Wednesday 14 November 2007
Atkins currently provides training courses for all its crew members, ranging from the safe transfer of wheelchair passengers to guidance on how to manage an epileptic seizure on board the vehicles. Atkins & RBK are also investigating other options relating to training, e.g. using the expertise of Community Transport organisations to further the training of crews.
Atkins have taken on board the lack of a training manual available to it's core staff. It has been recognised that there would be a benefit attached to providing these staff members with a manual to document, and remind them of, the areas in which training has been given. Atkins has already started work on producing a staff training manual, which they hope to make available to parents in 2008.
A Code of Conduct document is already in use at Atkins, is given to each member of staff and details driver and escort roles and responsibilities and many procedures for their day to day work. This will shortly be published on this site. However, it's important to note that while roles are split and clearly defined within the Code of Conduct, all Atkins crew members are expected to work closely together as a team (for example, replacement drivers would often be supported in their role by a regular escort on the route, and similiarly replacement escorts being supported by a regular driver).
Comments were noted in respect of vehicle breakdowns and on the amount of time required to secure a replacement vehicle to continue the route. An engineer is based at NESCOT college from 6.30am (to be available for Atkins routes in both Surrey and Kingston), but it would not be cost effective to have either a dedicated engineer or a spare bus on stand-by in Kingston, as the number of these incidents is relatively low in relation to the number of journeys that go well. Atkins explained that all maintenance was completed from their Ripley office, where various inspections at 13 weeks, 26 weeks, 6 months and 12 months are completed. Atkins also confirmed that all vehicles are inspected every 13 weeks (a stipulation from the traffic commissioner in the Ripley area) and that full services are carried out on each vehicle every 6 months. New vehicles are also planned.
Communication is clearly a very important issue. Atkins currently provides transport for 141 children, travelling on 16 buses to and from schools within RBK. It's very rare that several buses are delayed at the same time (with the exception of problems which affect Kingston's traffic as a whole, e.g. the A3 being closed). Where an incident affects a single route, Atkins always try to call parents to advise if the transport is going to be more than 20 minutes late. [Parents are asked to confirm any changes to their contact details to Claire Macduff, Contracts Officer at RBK, who will pass on your updated contact details to Atkins.] Where an incident affects more than one bus, Atkins again try to contact parents, but are understandably unable to employ extra staff on the basis of needing them for this reason. It's also very difficult for Atkins to update parents on a situation, given that most buses carry between 8 and 10 passengers and each call can take several minutes. In cases of delays to the service, if you are unhappy for your child to wait, or are unsure about how long the wait may be, you may want to take your child to school yourselves on these occasions. If you chose to do this, please advise RBK so that we can make Atkins aware.
Concerns were raised about a number of incidents which have taken place this year. All Atkins drivers have been advised that they are responsible for reporting any damage or mechanical faults to the workshop immediately, where a view will be taken on whether the vehicle is still safe to be used until the fault is repaired. In cases where the vehicle is still safe to be used, it is the driver's responsibility to ask for regular updates on when the vehicle will be repaired. Drivers are also responsible for ensuring that their bus is clean and safe for children to travel inside at all times - so any professional cleaning requirements must also be reported to Atkins immediately by them. Also, if parents report any issues or concerns to a driver and this is not acted upon, please contact Atkins Head Office (01372 752 188).