COLUMBUS, Ohio – For six years, Jeff Metzger has been driving buses for COTA, and loving every second of it.
“I just like being out with the people,” said Metzger. “I’m not a person who likes to sit in an office or chair somewhere in a c cubicle. I like to be out and moving around.”
And move he does, up and down Broad Street from Lincoln Village all the way to Taylor Road near Blacklick.
In the course of a day, Metzger will greet hundreds of passengers aboard his bus, and with them, their good or bad attitudes.
“I like to always give them a good morning, have a nice day,” said Metzger. “It kind of disarms them. I’ve never had a big problem.”
And that is the goal for every COTA operator, but they can arise.
For instance, from September 2013 to September 2014, COTA operators encountered 383 disruptive incidents, ranging from passenger fare disputes, theft and harassing or threatening operators.
But these are incidents COTA operators train for.
“Our drivers are taught to remain calm, assess the situation, call on others to take care of the situation,” said Marvin Gifford, COTA’s Transportation Training Manager. “They’re not the COTA police. Their focus is safety on the bus and operating the coach”
“But when situations do happen,” said Metzger, “you have to keep your cool. Take a breath, slow down and take care of the situation. Don’t let it get out of hand.”
So whether it’s unruly passengers, slick roads or anything else, COTA insists their drivers are prepared for it all.
“The distractions are tremendous but when our operators look at their coaches when the shift ends and say yeah, I did this,” said Gifford. “It’s fun and we come back to do it again, because we have that passion of serving the public.”
COTA operators go through customer service training every year with refresher courses throughout the year as necessary.