'More than just a bus driver:' MCTS drivers undergo sensitivity training before hitting the roads

MILWAUKEE -- We often hear stories about Milwaukee bus drivers being courageous and courteous when their riders come under duress. It's all part of the job, as Milwaukee County Transit System drivers undergo sensitivity training before hitting the roads.

Chris Fox

Becoming an MCTS bus driver is far more involved than maneuvering from point A to point B.

"In reality, a bus driver is more than just a bus driver. They interact with people on a daily basis. They are going to interact with a whole lot of disabilities," said Chris Fox, MCTS mobility director.

Just as important for drivers is appreciating how certain riders get from point A to point B.

"We will have one of the drivers be basically a visually-impaired person, and the other driver will help them get from the building to the bus stop," said Fox.

At the MCTS Administration Building, new drivers on Wednesday, Aug. 8 experienced a viewpoint they've never had before -- what it's like to ride with a disability.

Yolanda Means and Crystal Montgomery are both in their third week of training.

"You have to make them feel comfortable," said Means.

They took turns guiding the other, as they would a visually-impaired rider.

"It's a bit nerve-wracking and scary," said Montgomery.

Every new MCTS driver participates in this sensitivity training.

"So they know everyone is different on different days. Someone might have different conditions and treat everyone like it was a loved one or family member," said Fox.

It's training many new drivers never expected -- understanding there's a lot more to their new job.

This kind of training is not new. MCTS began sensitivity training in this capacity in 2012.

On Wednesday afternoon, new drivers were also becoming familiar with wheelchairs and mobility scooters.