In the summer of 2010, Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority contracted Red Kite Project to develop and instruct social skills/customer service training to their new hire bus operators in order to address the high turnover rate and raise the level of professionalism among this population. RKP’s curriculum development for SEPTA grew out of a thorough needs assessment, which included both management and experienced operators’ perspectives. The course was customized to incorporate case studies and role-plays taken from the work experiences of the experienced operator. In addition, RKP focused the curriculum on trauma education, identity psychology and conflict transformation and used reflective practice to engage participants. The training was conducted over a five-day period prior to the new hires beginning their driving instruction. It is important to note that RKP assigned two instructors to facilitate the sessions due to the nature of the material and the reflective practice required to interact with it.

The initial results of RKP’s training were captured as an ROE (Return on Expectation). Participant survey / feedback sheets revealed consistent scores of four out of four in content relevance, acquired new knowledge and skills, application of skills, and belief in an increase of on-the-job performance and productivity. Within six months, SEPTA requested Red Kite Project develop and instruct a second four-day training program for experienced operators and conductors. This second training program began in September of 2011 and was an immediate success with the experienced operator/conductor population who have historically rejected outside trainers, typically stating that they were out of touch with the difficulties transit workers encounter on the job. Experienced operators/conductors communicated unanimously that Red Kite Project trainers and the course reflected a real-world understanding of the issues the transit worker must face each workday.

In January of 2012, Red Kite Project began training SEPTA’s upper and middle management in transformational leadership practices. The focus of this training was to build more effective communication, feedback, and conflict management skills so that managers are able to support their direct reports in making the necessary shifts to become more customer-service-driven.

Finally, in January of 2013, Red Kite Project began training cashiers who would become customer attendants when SEPTA’s new payment technology goes into effect. This was a three-day training, which focused on threat assessment, conflict de-escalation and crisis intervention.

Red Kite Project has continued to conduct new bus hire trainings every month, new assistant conductor trainings quarterly and experienced operator/conductor trainings monthly throughout our six years as training consultants for SEPTA. (Please see our Metrics video to review the outcomes of our work with SEPTA)

July 25, 2016