Operator Training Videos

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Every year, Portland Streetcar has to re-certify more than 50 operators on three routes (the A loop, B loop, and N-S line). With three different train types, sixteen miles of track and a tight schedule, that's no small undertaking. So they reached out to us a couple of years ago to produce a series of training videos that would help streamline the process. Video training allows operators to review procedures for recertification without having to call an actual train out of service. This means that you, the rider, experience fewer service delays (you're welcome)!

For each training video, we filmed the entire route from multiple angles, synchronizing views of signals, panels, and road conditions with detailed operating instructions narrated throughout. Motion graphics help clarify instructions and emphasize points along the way. Steve Fisher, then the Operations Supervisor, guided us through the filming process so that we knew what needed to be communicated. It was fascinating to get a look behind the scenes of a busy metro transit agency, and we had to learn a whole lot about the streetcar in order to assemble and annotate the videos effectively.

Since this was a while back, we wanted to check in to see how the videos were being applied, and whether they are as useful as they were meant to be. Steve, who has since been promoted to Safety & Risk Manager (congrats Steve!), and Brandi Wellborn, who took over as Operations Supervisor when Steve moved on (congrats Brandi!) had some great insights. They each told me that the videos effectively amplified their reach as trainers and supervisors.

Since PSC is a relatively small agency, it gets difficult to clear everyone through recertification on any kind of realistic time scale with the limited equipment they have available. Now, operators can access training materials on their breakroom computer, and can revisit the training any number of times before they complete recertification.

Brandi and Steve also had a chance to tell me more about the public-facing How To Ride video we made for them. When a safety audit showed that a significant portion of preventable Streetcar accidents involved older folks near hospitals and nursing homes, the PSC response was to recommend that the video play in the lobbies of these high-risk locations to help spread awareness of safe riding practices.

What I liked best about these projects was getting to see the behind-the-scenes stuff that keeps our city going. We have a great relationship with the folks at PSC and it’s nice to feel connected to the transit community. Every time I see the streetcar go by, I like to think that we've contributed to a smoother ride.

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Jannine Hanczarek is a Technical Illustrator at Fat Pencil Studio.