Enough training? No one has used $400,000 Lynx safety simulator in months

More than 4 years ago, Lynx dropped $400,000 on a new simulator to train bus drivers.

ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. — More than four years ago, Lynx spend $400,000 on a new simulator to train bus drivers. The goal: A high-tech way to prevent crashes.

The problem is: No one has used it in almost eight months.

The bigger problem is: Lynx bus operators were involved in 1,660 crashes in 2017 and 2018. 540 of those were considered preventable.

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"I think that before we discipline the employees, we give them the proper training to include the simulator, exhaust all options,” said Ismael Rivera, president of the Lynx Bus Driver's Union.

River said he doesn't think Lynx drivers get enough ongoing training.

"My suggestion is that we get constantly trained at least once a year or every other year,” Rivera said.

In 2014, Lynx showed Channel 9 its $400,000 simulator. At the time, Lynx said all new hires would train with it.

Rivera said he's never used it once. He also said that to his knowledge, new drivers aren't using it.
"If we don't use it that's a waste of money," Rivera said.

Lynx said in a December 2018 report that the simulator was being used on a “as needed” basis. But a month later, a Lynx spokesperson said it hasn’t been used since June 2018.

“No idea,” said Matt Friedman when asked why Channel 9 wasn’t told the simulator wasn’t being used.

Lynx CEO Edward Johnson declined an interview. Johnson has been under pressure after Channel 9 reported Lynx faced a possible $21 million budget deficit.

Meanwhile, Friedman said the bus service now uses a different system for training that is required for bus operators and anyone else who drives a Lynx vehicle.

"We started going to a defensive driving system that we felt was a little bit stronger. For us because it's actual on-the-road training," Friedman said.

Rivera said the new defensive driving system is “OK,” but involves hours of classroom training.

"Give them more driving time and less classroom time. That will make them better operators," Rivera said.

At first, Lynx said the new training is better. But after Channel 9 started asking questions, CEO Edward Johnson sent a written statement that, "going forward, all new operator hires will go through both trainings."

Drivers who run a red light or get into accidents may also utilize it. It's unclear when it will start being used again.