Learning to drive a tramcar

15 Sep

Auckland Dockside trams need to be staffed my drivers usually called “motormen” Even women prefer to be motormen. Around 100 applicants were received for potential motormen. Eight were chosen from a short list of 20. Ages of the eight range from 22 to 70.Two tram drivers from Christchurch, Ken Henderson and Joe Pickering did the training over a short time before the tramway opened in August. Joe, in particular, has been training Christchurch tram drivers over several years. He taught me.
“It’s not rocket science,” he says. But he admits propelling a large tramcar along a busy street can be daunting if one is new to the task. The two Dockline trams are identical to drive with easy self-lapping air brakes. One licence, issued by the tramway, covers both trams. Also the 1.5 km track is not complicated and traffic is light.
“The new Dockline drivers caught on very quickly,” says Joe. A trainer needs to judge the best distance to stand from the rookie motorman – not too close or too far away. “It takes time to build up confidence when training. You have responsibility but no control of the tram.” He says it is important to drive a tourist tram well which usually means smoothly. “I am impressed with the capabilities of the new drivers. But they need to concentrate on honing their skills. Future staff will look up to these initial drivers for guidance and encouragement.”

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