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Cambus confident about its drivers in winter

BY KELLIE PETERSEN | FEBRUARY 11, 2010 7:30 AM

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Even when other local bus routes come to a halt in winter weather, Cambus often continues to deliver people to their destinations.

While not all Cambus drivers are trained to drive in winter conditions, Cambus officials say their 40 hours of required training creates prepared drivers.

Cambus training and safety supervisor Ryan Miller said the organization provides drivers with winter-driving tips and asks dispatchers to remind them often to obey common winter-driving rules, such as slowing down.

While they don’t provide winter-weather training for all Cambus drivers, those who train in the winter learn how to control the bus in those conditions, Miller said.

UI senior and Cambus driver Renee White, who trained during the winter, said the experience was advantageous. People who did not train during the winter may not be as used to winter driving conditions and may have to take a few more precautions, she said.

“But I don’t think it would be outrageously difficult,” White said.

Miller said training includes prospective drivers getting their Class B commercial driver’s license permit, driving for 10 hours with a driving trainer, then driving for 30 hours with a normal licensed driver.

To complete training, drivers go on a “final drive” with Miller to determine their preparedness.

At Iowa State University, drivers for the school’s transit system, CyRide, go through 140 hours of training both on and off a bus, said Sheri Kyras, the transit director for CyRide.

However, she said, CyRide differs from Cambus. CyRide has fares and more extensive routes, because it serves the town of Ames as well as the ISU campus.

CyRide offers winter-driving training; drivers are taken to an empty parking lot to do “slide training” — applying the brakes and causing the bus to slide — after one of the first snowfalls.

Winter weather complicates aspects beyond actually driving, such as deciding when to delay or cancel bus routes, officials said.

“When dealing with inclement weather, it really, truly, is a case-by-case basis,” said Vicky Robrock, the director of parking and transportation for Coralville Transit.

During a snowstorm earlier this year, Cambus routes remained open, and Coralville and Iowa City routes were briefly closed. Miller said this was because Cambus routes follow all primary roads, which are cleared more often; Coralville and Iowa City routes cover residential neighborhoods.


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